Two professionals fall victim to scam, losing around HK$10 million in total

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29th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) Law enforcement agencies have received reports of two major fraud cases involving individuals with advanced degrees and professional backgrounds. These distressing incidents highlight the vulnerability of even the most educated and experienced individuals when it comes to financial scams.

According to authorities, the first case unfolded in mid-December 2023 when a 60-year-old man was contacted via “LinkedIn” by someone claiming to be an investment expert. The initial contact quickly escalated to conversations on the messaging platform “WhatsApp.” Seizing the opportunity, the fraudster lured the victim into downloading a deceptive investment application called “Eikrt.me” from the Apple App Store, promising lucrative returns through cryptocurrency investments in USDT.

Trusting the supposed expertise of the fraudster, the victim transferred a total of H$800,000 to the provided bank accounts on two separate occasions between 5th and 6th January of this year, with the intention of replenishing their investment account.

To the victim’s surprise, they managed to extract HK$303,900 as alleged investment returns from the application. This initial success reinforced their belief in the legitimacy of the investment platform, leading them to continue investing without suspicion. Between 13th January and 21st February, the victim further transferred approximately HK$9 million to more than ten bank accounts provided by the fraudster. However, on the 22nd of this month, the victim realised they could no longer retrieve their funds from the application and failed to establish any further contact with the fraudster, prompting them to suspect foul play and report the incident on 24th February.

In a separate case, a 55-year-old accountant received a call on 22nd November, 2023, from an individual claiming to be a mainland national security officer. The fraudster accused the victim of spreading inflammatory messages concerning the treatment of nuclear wastewater in Japan, alleging a violation of national security. Denying the accusation, the victim found themselves transferred to two additional fraudsters who continued the conversation. These scammers instructed the victim to purchase a new mobile phone and communicate through the messaging platform “Telegram,” demanding regular updates on their whereabouts. Furthermore, the fraudsters accused the victim of involvement in an international financial fraud case and requested a guarantee fee for investigation purposes.

Following the fraudsters’ instructions, the victim opened two bank accounts between November 2023 and January 2024, depositing a total of over HK$3.4 million through checks. Naively, the victim provided the fraudsters with the account details and passwords for these two bank accounts. Subsequently, the fraudsters demanded an additional guarantee fee of approximately HK$400,000 to be transferred to the bank account of a mainland prosecutor, claiming it would prove the victim’s innocence. Without suspicion, the victim made the online transfer. It was only when the victim discovered that all messages on Telegram had been deleted that they realised they had been deceived. Both of the victim’s bank accounts were subsequently frozen, preventing them from checking their balances, leading them to report the case seeking assistance.

These distressing incidents serve as a reminder that even individuals with high levels of education and professional expertise are not immune to the sophisticated tactics employed by fraudsters. Law enforcement agencies are actively investigating these cases, aiming to bring the perpetrators to justice and raise awareness about the dangers of financial scams. As individuals navigate the complex world of investments and online interactions, it is crucial to exercise caution, verify the credibility of platforms and individuals, and report any suspicious activities promptly.