Hong Kong residents have received a warning from the police regarding fraudulent individuals posing as representatives from Binance and sending deceptive texts. Within the last fortnight, authorities have documented 11 incidents, resulting in reported losses totalling HK$3.5 million.
According to a local news report, law enforcement officials have highlighted a post on the “Net Keeper” social platform, expressing concern over a notable increase in fraudulent activities centered around phishing text messages that mimic Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange in terms of market capitalization.
Hong Kong police warn against scammers
Allegedly, the scammers employ enticing tactics to prompt users to click on these deceitful text messages, subsequently gaining unauthorized entry to victims’ Binance accounts and making off with their digital assets.
In response, the police have issued a reminder to citizens to take several precautionary measures. These include evaluating the security risks associated with various platforms, securing substantial amounts of virtual assets in offline wallets, and exclusively utilizing a trading platform licensed in Hong Kong for investment purposes.
This advisory coincides with a growing awareness of funds being lost to hacks, scams, and fraudulent schemes. A report released at the close of September revealed that in Q3 of 2023 alone, the crypto industry suffered losses amounting to $889.3 million.
Simultaneously, the Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gary Gensler, has been vocal about expressing his apprehensions regarding the widespread fraud and lack of regulatory compliance within the crypto space.
CZ issues warning on fake Binance scam attempts
Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the CEO of Binance, has issued a strong warning to users regarding the surge in scam attempts targeting the exchange’s community. This caution follows a distressing incident shared by a customer who revealed that scammers tried to exploit their personal information by impersonating it’s compliance team.
The customer reported receiving a call from an individual claiming to be a member of Binance’s compliance team. What made this situation particularly alarming was that the scammer possessed a significant amount of personal information about the user. That raised suspicions that the scam might be linked to the Kroll data breach, which had previously affected the users. Although the customer managed to thwart the scammer’s attempt, the incident underscores the critical need for continued vigilance and caution in the face of increasingly sophisticated phishing and scam tactics.
Around the same time as CZ’s warning, another prominent figure associated with Binance, Aman, expressed concerns about scams within the crypto community. Aman urged users to “Stay SAFU” and drew attention to a troubling trend involving the misuse of CZ’s images in NFTs, coupled with false promises of lucrative rewards.
The alert from this Binance-affiliated figure advised users against interacting with NFTs featuring CZ’s images and alluring reward giveaways. Scammers lured users into linking their wallets to the scammer’s websites, promising substantial rewards. However, the outcome was devastating, as users who fell for the scheme lost all their TrustWallet assets after unwittingly granting permission during the connection process.
Hong Kong has become a hotbed for crypto scams
Hong Kong’s securities regulator and police have joined forces to establish a collaborative task force aimed at monitoring and probing suspicious activities within cryptocurrency exchanges. This development comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the JPEX crypto exchange last month, which led to multiple arrests and the cessation of the platform’s services. The unlicensed exchange is accused of defrauding investors of $204 million.
The task force comprises members from the city’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) as well as law enforcement officials, including representatives from divisions specializing in commercial crime, cybersecurity and technology crime, and financial intelligence and investigations. The stated objective of the task force is to strengthen cooperation in the surveillance and investigation of illicit activities associated with virtual asset trading platforms.
Furthermore, the JPEX incident poses a potential challenge to Hong Kong’s aspirations of becoming a regional hub for crypto and fintech activities. Earlier this year, Hong Kong introduced a new regulatory framework for crypto assets and subsequently granted the first mandatory licenses for digital asset trading platforms in August.