December 8, 2023

Hong Kong Police Record Explosive Rise in Crypto Asset Theft

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Hong Kong Police Record Explosive Rise in Crypto Asset Theft

Against the backdrop of the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies in Hong Kong, the number of crimes related to digital assets increased by 105%.

Acting SeniorCybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau Superintendent Wilson Fan Chun-yip said that from January to June, 10,613 cybercrimes were reported in Hong Kong with a total value of HK$1.58 billion ($201 million). This is 46% more than in the same six months of last year (7,270 incidents). The number of cases of cryptocurrency fraud reached 798, which is 105% more than in the first half of 2021. Crypto fraudsters stole assets worth 387.9 million Hong Kong dollars (about $50 million), which is 130% more than a year ago. 

One of the victims of the scammers was a 30-year-olda woman running a currency exchange office in Hong Kong. A few months ago, she received a WhatsApp message allegedly from the head of a crypto exchange. The criminal persuaded her to invest about $280,000 in Tether (USDT).

“The first four Tether exchange transactionswent smoothly. The victim received 2.7 million Hong Kong dollars ($344 000) by paying for exchange services. By this point, the fraudster had gained the trust of the victim,” said a law enforcement representative.

Shortly after the first transaction, the attackeradvised the victim to transfer the accumulated profits to a certain wallet. After this transfer, the woman lost access to her assets, and the fraudster stopped communicating. 

According to the police, crypto fraudtopped the ranking of the biggest scams in Hong Kong in the first half of 2022, beating job offer scams and other online scams.

Last month, analysts from Forex Suggestanalyzed different countries and regions according to parameters characterizing the availability of cryptocurrencies for citizens, and recognized Hong Kong as the most ready to accept digital assets.