According to the Hong Kong Police Department, 2,336 crypto fraud-related incidents were reported in 2022, with over $216.6 million lost. Although losses related to crypto fraud only account for just over 10% of the nearly 23,000 reported technology crimes, they still account for more than half of the $407.7 million lost by online fraudsters.
Crypto-related fraud accounts for just over 10% of reported technology crimes
Hong Kong residents reportedly lost a total of $216.6 million (HK$1.7 billion) to cryptocurrency-related fraud, or just over half of the $407.7 million lost to online fraudsters in 2022. The more than doubling of crypto fraud-related losses follows a 67% jump in the number of victims from 1,397 reported in 2021 to 2,336 by the end of last year.
However, crypto fraud-related crimes accounted for just over 10% of the nearly 23,000 technology crimes reported in 2022, according to data reportedly shared by Hong Kong law enforcement. While police have had some success in intercepting and interdicting wire transfers to fraudsters, insiders quoted in a recent South China Morning Post reportclaimed that fraudsters’ increasing use of cryptography is making the task of tracking stolen funds “more difficult.”
According to one unnamed insider, online fraudsters’ alleged preference for crypto may help explain the decline in the amount of funds intercepted to the last level seen in 2019. To counter the scammers’ growing preference for crypto-related scams, Hong Kong police reportedly warned residents in February to be wary of a type of scam targeting animal lovers.
Pet Lover Scam
The warning was issued after an unnamed woman lost $760,000 worth of bitcoins to a scammer posing as a pet lover selling kittens, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The scammer reportedly persuaded the victim to transfer funds in 40 transactions before disappearing. In another case, a 63-year-old man was allegedly robbed of more than $1.5 million by a scammer posing as a cryptocurrency expert.
Besides crypto scams, Hong Kong police figures report that law enforcement agencies have dealt with 1,884 online investment scams involving about “HK$926 million ($118 million).” The figures also report that scams targeting job seekers increased from 1,063 reported cases in 2021 to 2,884 in 2022.
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