Hong Kong police have revealed that crypto-related scams are now at the highest level in the country, with nearly 500 cases recorded so far this year. Victims have lost almost $30 million, and one person was reported to have lost about $17 million, with Bitcoin-related scams accounting for about $500,000.
Hong Kong’s Digital Assets Scams Keep Rising
A new report from the South China Morning Post reveals that Hong Kong crypto scams recorded between January and June 2021 have been higher than ever recorded; it’s almost $30 million. For perspective, the total amount recorded last year was less than $16 million.
Hong Kong police head of cybersecurity and technology crime, Lester lp Cheuk-yu, blamed the sit-at-home order because of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason why more Hong Kongese keeps falling into crypto scams. He opined that hackers easily target them because they are online almost throughout the day.
“The more people stay at home, the more they are online, and scammers can make their scams more visible to them.” The law enforcement agents estimated that crypto-related scams recorded by the police since the beginning are almost 500.
Sadly, over 50% of the almost $30 million lost to crypto scammers were from a 30-year old man who lost about $17 million to a Filecoin investment scam after being lured by people close to him.
Cheuk-yu said most assume they have adequate knowledge of how cryptocurrency works, but when they face its intricacies, they are lost. Also, some erroneously believe that cryptocurrencies are a get-rich-quick or Ponzi scheme.
He further said that scammers’ primary target audience is the youth since they would be more interested in crypto-related deals. “The youths are the most scammed because most of them are easily swayed by sweet promises from crypto scammers,” he concluded.
The United Kingdom Is A “Paradise” For Crypto Scams
In response to the news of the rise in crypto scams in Hong Kong, David Lindberg (NatWest’s retail banking chief) said that Hong Kong is still behind the UK in terms of crypto scams. Lindberg suggested that social media moguls, banks, police, and the government need to collaborate before crypto scams can be a thing of the past in the country.
“Fraudsters and scammers have a network. They are intelligent, and won’t mind destroying lives to achieve their aims,” Lindberg further revealed. He also said these fraudsters create fake but highly attractive websites to lure their potential victims into investing in cryptocurrencies offering obscene returns in their advert.
“When people visit these websites, they think they are legit because of the website’s outlook. Hence, they assume they are investing in the digital assets, not knowing they are only funding the luxurious lifestyle of a fraudster.”
Despite various crypto regulations and policies by Hong Kong authorities, like the crypto trading restrictions, it seems that there is still no reduction in the number of people falling for crypto-related scams online. Hong Kong authorities revealed that it introduced the crypto trading restrictions to protect investor’s investments.