According to reports, crypto scams were among the most frequent cybercrimes in Hong Kong during the first half of 2022, accounting for 25% of total cybercrimes.
Between January 2022 and June 2022, there were 10,613 cyberattacks in Hong Kong, according to a South China Morning Post report. 798 of the fraudulent schemes involved cryptocurrencies, which represents a 105 percent increase over the same period in 2021.
Compared to the $21 million stolen in H1, 2021, wrongdoers scooped off HK $387.9 million (around $50 million) from Hong Kong-based crypto companies and individuals.
The exploding appetite for digital assets that the people in China’s special administrative area have recently displayed may be the reason for the sudden rise in crypto scams in the area.
Hong Kong is the world’s most crypto-ready nation, according to a survey done last month. The top spot came about as a result of a combination of different components, including the government’s supportive stance toward the sector, the number of cryptocurrency ATMs, and the general level of interest in it.
A victim in Hong Kong
Fan, a 30-year-old supervisor of a local currency exchange store, was one of the victims of such attacks in Hong Kong. A few months ago, she got a WhatsApp message from an anonymous person posing as the CEO of a platform for digital assets. She was tricked into spending about $280,000 on Tether by the criminal.
“The first four transactions to exchange [cryptocurrency] Tether went smoothly. The victim received HK$2.7 million, which included payment to her for the exchange service she provided to the scammer. By that point, the scammer gained the victim’s trust,” according to law enforcement officials.
But shortly after, the fraudster gave Fan the option to move the accumulated profits to a suspicious cryptocurrency wallet. Consequently, she lost access to her assets during the time that the fraudster stopped addressing her.
The Hong Kong police also found that scams involving digital assets were among the top three crimes in the nation during the first quarter of 2022. The other two were online shopping fraud and fake job offers.