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Cryptocurrency scams have reportedly become one of the most common cybercrimes in Hong Kong in the first half of 2022, with 25% involving digital assets.

The alarming number of such fraudulent schemes can be explained by the growing interest in cryptocurrencies among many Hong Kong residents. A recent study classified the state as the best cryptocurrency-friendly country in the world.

105% more crypto scams than in the first half of 2021

According to the South China Morning Post coverage, from the beginning of January to the end of June this year, a total of 10,613 cyber attacks occurred in Hong Kong. 798 cryptocurrency-related fraudulent schemes – a 105% increase considering the same period in 2021.

Criminals stole HK$387.9 million (approximately $50 million) from digital asset companies and individuals in Hong Kong – a significant increase from the $21 million stolen in the first half of 2021.

One of the victims was a 30-year-old woman named Fan, who ran a currency exchange shop in the area. A few months ago, she received a message on WhatsApp from an anonymous person who claimed to be the head of the digital asset platform. The criminals lured her into investing around $280,000 in Tether (USDT).

“The first four transactions to be exchanged [cryptocurrency] The tether went smoothly. The victim received HK$2.7 million, including the money she paid for the exchange services provided by the scammers. At that point, the crook has gained the victim’s trust,” the law enforcement official noted.

Shortly after, however, the wrongdoers advised Fan to transfer the accumulated profits to a dubious cryptocurrency wallet. Needless to say, when the crooks stopped contacting her, she lost access to the assets.

Hong Kong police further determined that fraud related to digital assets is one of the top three frauds in the country in the first half of 2022. The other two are job offer fraud and fraudulent online shopping activity.

Hong Kong climbs the encryption ladder

Residents have recently shown a surge in demand for digital assets, likely fueling the rapid rise in cryptocurrency scams in Hong Kong. A survey conducted last month revealed that the Chinese special administrative region is the best country in the world for cryptocurrencies.

The first position is the result of a combination of factors, including the government’s friendly stance on the industry, the number of cryptocurrency ATMs, and per capita interest in the industry.

The world’s leading economy – the United States – came in second, while Europe’s financial center – Switzerland – was a close second.

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