Hong Kong’s authorities have claimed that 11 of the city’s Binance clients had been targeted in a series of phishing scams that were reportedly carried out via text messages.
Hong Kong law-enforcement agencies have cautioned users of the scam as part of an October 9, 2023 update shared via their social media page, called “CyberDefender.”
As noted in the update, fraudsters were recently posing as Binance and had sent text messages stating that users must click the link in the message in order to verify their identity details “before a deadline, otherwise their account would be deactivated.”
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) October 9, 2023
HK authorities stated that after users had clicked the link and apparently “verified” their personal information, bad actors had been able to get complete access to their Binance accounts, where they reportedly stole all of the crypto-assets kept within the clients’ digital wallets.
As stated in the social media post, the phishing scams have been reported by 11 Hong Kong-based Binance clients who have suffered total losses of over $446,000 (approx. HKD 3.5M) during the past couple weeks.
The authorities have requested clients who think that they’ve been sent fraudulent messages to log any such communication via the “fraud prevention” part of its official website.
In addition to this, the local authorities had shared a link to an updated list of verified digital asset trading services, distributed by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.
At present, just two crypto firms — HashKey and OSL — have obtained full licenses for serving retail investor residing in Hong Kong.
Launched in May of this year, CyberDefender is an initiative established by the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force, with the intention to raise local residents’ general awareness of security threats online.
Along with these concerning developments, Hong Kong cryptocurrency investors have been dealing with various scams and fraudulent activities during the past few weeks, with the massive JPEX crypto exchange scandal resulting in losses of around $180 million and over 2,300 Hong Kong investors submitting complaints with authorities.
JPEX had reportedly been operating as an unregistered or unlawful crypto exchange that attracted a fairly large number of Hong Kong residents with a lot of advertising and promised unusually high returns via its suite of lending products.
The crypto exchange then proceeded to raise fees on withdrawals from its platform on September 15, 2023, which basically made user funds inaccessible.
After this news, which has been referred to as one of the biggest fraudulent schemes to impact Hong Kong, the SFC said that it will share a list of licensed and potentially fraudulent crypto services providers in order to address potential fraud and other forms of abusive activities.