Vice-president of Hong Kong-listed company conned out of more than $3 million in cryptocurrency investment scam

A vice-president of a Hong Kong-listed company has lost more than HK$16 million (S$3 million) after falling victim to a cryptocurrency investment scam.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

A vice-president of a Hong Kong-listed company has been conned out of more than HK$16 million (S$3 million) after falling victim to a cryptocurrency investment scam, the Post has learned.

The money the 56-year-old woman lost included her savings as well as a HK$5.5 million bank loan she had applied for, police said on Friday (Oct 7).

The deception case came to light four days after she reported her loss to the force on Monday. No arrests have been made.

The woman met a so-called cryptocurrency expert in July through an online financial advertisement and was then lured into spending digital money on a fake online investment app, police said.

"She was lured into investing in Ethereum and Tether and transferred HK$8.8 million into eight e-wallet accounts in 10 transactions in July and August," a source said.

When she wanted to cash out, the fraudster gave an excuse and duped her out of more money. According to police, the woman was asked to pay a surety to get back the investment money.

"The victim then applied for a HK$5.5 million loan from a bank," the force said in its statement on Friday.

The woman transferred another HK$7.8 million – comprising the loan amount and money from her savings - to one of the eight e-wallet accounts in eight transactions in September.

She only realised she had been conned when she lost contact with the "investment expert". According to police, the woman suffered losses totalling HK$16.6 million.

Officers are trying to track down the "expert" and the holders of the eight e-wallet accounts, with an investigation into the final destination of the funds under way, according to the source.

Hong Kong has marked a surge in scams in recent years. In 2020, there were 15,553 such cases, compared with 8,216 in 2019. In 2021, the number rose to 19,249.

In the first half of 2022, nearly 40 per cent, or 12,326, of the 31,434 crimes reported to police were deception cases.

In the first six months of the year, police handled 10,613 reports of cybercrimes with financial losses totalling HK$1.58 billion.

In the whole of last year, fraudsters conned victims out of HK$3.02 billion in 16,159 cases of technology crime.

ALSO READ: Student arrested in Hong Kong for role in faked kidnapping to scam parents

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.