Friday, 10 March 2023

Report: Hong Kong Residents Lost More Than $216 Million to Crypto Scams in 2022

by Berkeley Lovelace

Report: Hong Kong Residents Lost More Than 6 Million to Crypto Scams in 2022

According to Hong Kong police, in 2022 there were 2,336 reported crypto scam-related cases in which more than $216.6 million was lost. Although losses relating to crypto scams only constituted just over 10% of the nearly 23,000 reported technology crimes, they still accounted for more than half of the $407.7 million that was lost to online fraudsters.

Crypto-Related Scams Constitute Just Over 10% of Reported Technology Crimes

Hong Kong residents reportedly incurred cryptocurrency-related scam losses totaling $216.6 million (HK$1.7 billion), just over half of the $407.7 million that was lost to online scammers in 2022, a report has said. The more-than-double increase in crypto scam-related losses followed a 67% jump in the number of victims from 1,397 reported cases in 2021 to 2,336 by the end of last year.

However, according to the data reportedly shared by Hong Kong law enforcement, crypto scam-related crimes constituted just over 10% of the nearly 23,000 technology crimes that were reported in 2022. Although the police have had some success in intercepting and blocking wire transfers to fraudsters, an insider quoted in a recent South China Morning Post report claimed that fraudsters’ increasing use of crypto makes the task of tracking stolen funds “more difficult.”

According to an unnamed insider, online fraudsters’ supposed preference for crypto may help to explain why the amount of intercepted funds has fallen to levels last seen in 2019. To counter scammers’ growing preference for crypto-related scams, Hong Kong police are said to have issued an alert in February warning residents to be wary of a type of scam that targets animal lovers.

Pet-Lover Scams

As per the South China Morning Post report, the alert was issued after an unnamed woman lost more than $760,000 worth of bitcoins to a scammer who posed as a pet lover selling a kitten. The scammer reportedly convinced the victim to transfer funds across 40 transactions before disappearing. In another case, a 63-year-old is said to have lost more than $1.5 million to a scammer that posed as a cryptocurrency expert.

Besides crypto scams, Hong Kong police figures reportedly show that law enforcement had handled around “1,884 online investment frauds involving HK$926 million [$118 million].” The figures also reportedly show that scams targeting job seekers grew from 1,063 reported cases in 2021 to 2,884 in 2022.

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