Two suspects have been accused of stealing almost $500,000 from unsuspecting victims in fraudulent bitcoin transactions in Hong Kong.
Fake It Till You Steal It
According to a report by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday (Mar. 23, 2021), the victims, aged 33 and 31, were deceived by two con artists in a fake bitcoin transaction. The cons who posed as bitcoin sellers managed to steal HK$3.85 million ($495,650) from the victims.
The victims, who work at a money exchange company, went to a shop in Tin Hau to purchase bitcoin with the cash. Meanwhile, a middleman whose identity was not revealed connected the buyers to the fake bitcoin sellers.
After handing over the cash to the fraudsters, one of the con artists left the shop with the funds, pretending to carry out some paperwork regarding the transaction. A police source who spoke about the mode of operation said:
“The money was counted in the shop, before one of the two ‘sellers’ left the shop with the money to carry out some document procedure.”
However, the buyers began to suspect foul play when the absent seller didn’t return after a long time. While the buyers tried to find the seller with the money, the remaining fraudster attempted to flee when the victims threatened to report the matter to the police.
After a brief chase, the fake bitcoin seller was caught and handed over to law enforcement. Although the suspect is in police custody undergoing interrogation, his colleague who disappeared with the money remains at large.
Bitcoin Scammers in the Prowl
With bitcoin gaining more popularity and growing in value, scammers looking for ways to swindle unsuspecting victims. In Hong Kong alone, there have been different reports of people who fell victims to fraudsters.
As previously reported by CryptoPotato in January 2021, a gang of robbers stole close to $450,000 from a woman in Hong Kong at knifepoint. Earlier in the same month, a man fell victim to thieves who stole HK$3 million from him after being deceived to sell his bitcoins.
Apart from robbery operations happening in Hong Kong, fraudsters employ other methods. Scammers back in January were selling the COVID-19 vaccine on the dark web, requesting buyers to pay as high as $1,000 in BTC for a single dose.