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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Romance and investment cons gouge out $1.34b

Romance and investment cons gouge out $1.34b

Over 2,800 investment and romance scam victims have lost HK$1.34 billion in the first 10 months last year.
Police said 1,503 investment scams saw HK$770 million in losses, double the 792 cases and HK$375 million in losses in the same period a year before.

Of the 1,309 romance cons, around HK$578 million was lost, 20 percent more than HK$483 million in 2021.

Cyber security and technology crime bureau superintendent Fan Chun-yip said: "Almost half of the romance scammers pretended to be investment specialists to swindle more money."

Of the investment scams, 69 percent involved virtual assets, with one victim, a catering worker in his 40s, losing HK$180,000 in a cryptocurrency con.

Li said he became acquainted with a purported IT woman in September on Facebook who, claiming to have insider knowledge, got him to set up an account on a fake platform.

Li transferred the HK$180,000 in four transactions to a local bank account to purchase cryptocurrency.

Soon after, the value of the cryptocurrency plunged by 90 percent.

Last month, Li wanted to cut his losses and withdraw his money but found he could not log into his account.

Association of Blockchain Compliance Professionals legal adviser Gilbert Ng said: "A normal investment platform does not provide individual investment tips or services nor uses personal bank accounts for transactions."

Ng said swindlers create new currencies that involve great fluctuation risks for victims to invest in. Others may use bank accounts to launder proceeds.

He advised thorough research before investing in digital assets and only the use of platforms licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission or verified through third-party tools such as whois.com.

The police is hosting a Cyber Defenders campaign from this month to March to publicize anti-fraud information, with a carnival to be held in the West Kowloon Cultural District on February 28. A one-stop scam and pitfall search engine and mobile app Scameter will also be launched by March.

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