Crypto-related crime has hit record levels in Hong Kong for the first six months of this year, with one victim losing HK$124 million (US$15.95 million) to fraudsters, according to the South China Morning Post.

Fast facts

  • Hong Kong police recorded 496 such cases totaling HK$214.4 million (US$27.58 million) in just the first half of this year. This marks a significant increase over 2020, when only HK$114.4 million (US$14.72 million) was lost across 494 cases for the entire year.
  • Chief Inspector Lester Ip Cheuk-yu, of the police’s cybersecurity and technology crime bureau, attributes the rise in cases to the growing popularity of crypto investing in Hong Kong. “People have also been staying at home more, which means they spend longer on the internet, so scammers have more avenues to approach them online,” he said, according to the South China Morning Post. “This is a trend not just in Hong Kong but around the world.”
  • According to police, there are three main categories crypto-related crime: using crypto for money laundering, investment scams where sellers vanish with the victim’s money, and where buyers or sellers are robbed during face-to-face transactions.
  • Forkast.News has previously reported this type of crime is increasing in other parts of the world as well; in the U.S., reported cases of crypto-related crimes have risen on average 300% year on year between 2017 and 2020, with 82,135 cases occurring last year alone. Cryptocurrency-related crime is also on the rise the U.K. and Australia.