Crypto Scams on the Rise: How a Hong Kong Housewife Lost Nearly $1 Million to Fraudsters

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Hong Kong has seen a surge in crypto investment scams over the past year, with victims losing millions to deceptive practices. In one such case, a 46-year-old housewife fell prey to social media impersonators and lost HK$7.1 million (around $908,000) in what authorities have deemed an ‘obtaining property by deception’ scheme.

Sources familiar with the ongoing police investigation shared details of the incident with the South China Morning Post. According to their report, the woman was approached on Instagram in July 2022 by an individual urging her to invest in cryptocurrencies through a link. This led her to a fraudulent trading platform webpage. There, she encountered another scammer posing as a customer service representative for the site.

Over the next several months, from August to March, the fraudsters convinced the victim to transfer a total of HK$7.1 million into 15 different bank accounts under the guise of cryptocurrency investments. She was promised profits but received no financial returns. It wasn’t until she was unable to withdraw any funds or contact the impersonators that the housewife grew suspicious of wrongdoing.

After discussing her situation with family, the woman filed a police report this month. Detectives from the Western District cybercrime unit are investigating the case as “obtaining property by deception,” which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence under Hong Kong law. Their preliminary findings link the fake trading platform referenced in the scam to other similar fraud complaints indexed by platforms like Scameter, which helps verify the legitimacy of crypto-related websites and services.

When asked why she did not use such a vetting tool earlier to check the site herself, the victim admitted lacking familiarity with such resources. Her experience underscores the need for greater consumer awareness of emerging crypto risks as adoption increases in the region. As cited by police sources, cryptocurrency investment fraud cases in Hong Kong jumped 42.6% last year to 5,105 reports – underscoring an ongoing need for education.

As the scammers have yet to be identified, the months-long saga serves as a warning for others. With cryptocurrencies and related technologies still new to many, bad actors seek every opportunity to exploit knowledge gaps. By sharing details of her unfortunate experience, this woman hopes others can learn to spot deceptive practices before falling victim to similar crypto scams on the rise.

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