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Schoolboy, 17, loses $210,000 amid rise in crypto scams | #datingscams | #lovescams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating

Eunice Lam

A 17-year-old Secondary Five schoolboy who lost HK$210,000 of his savings in one day to a scammer he met on a dating app was among the 1,174 investment scams reported from January to April year. That was up 50 percent from 781 cases in the same period last year.

The scams involved 1,190 victims who lost HK$786 million as police have made 64 arrests – 46 men and 18 women.

The schoolboy, from a wealthy family, was approached by a scammer posing as an investment expert on April 9.

After chatting with the scammer for hours, the schoolboy was lured to create an account on a bogus cryptocurrency investment platform and transferred HK$200 into a designated local bank account to top up his investment account.

Two days later, when the boy saw multiple folds of revenue in his account, he made five more transactions on the same day, ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than HK$110,000, making a total of HK$210,000.

But when the boy was withdrawing the “profit,” his request was denied, and the scammer even asked him to add more funds. Realizing he had fallen victim, the boy told the police.

Senior inspector Ng Chun-yiu from the Commercial Crime Bureau said scammers were catching up with recent trends in cryptocurrency, as 675 cases of crypto-related investment scams were reported in the first four months this year, compared to 536 in January to April last year.

Scammers would approach victims via social media or instant messaging apps, pretending they were investment experts, and would lure victims to create an account on a fake investment platform with the promise of higher returns.

Ng said the public should consider it a red flag when asked to make transactions to personal bank accounts.”If fraudsters ask you to deposit the money into personal bank accounts, this is a very clear indicator as investment companies will never ask you to deposit money into a personal bank account,” Ng said.

Michelle Yeung Wai-yee, head of investor education and communication at the Investor and Financial Education Council, said citizens should do research on different investment tools and talk with family members to avoid falling victim to scams.

The Securities and Futures Commission’s new licensing regime for centralized virtual asset trading platforms came into effect this month, but she said the commission is still reviewing platforms’ applications, which means crypto investment has not yet been protected by any law in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, officers also found the number of stock investment scam cases rose five-fold to 229 in the first four months this year, from 46. About 240 people were victimized involving HK$121.9 million in losses.


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