HomeCryptoThe $60 million crypto-related scam: 458 arrests in Hong Kong

The $60 million crypto-related scam: 458 arrests in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police forces recently made 458 arrests related to crypto scams, specifically 314 money laundering incidents. 

An approximate amount of $15 million was laundered through cash withdrawals and transactions involving cryptocurrencies. 

Those detained as victims were involved in various financial crimes, including online shopping, job search scams, and other illicit activities. 

Full details are below. 

Hong Kong police operation leads to arrests for crypto scams 

As anticipated above, Hong Kong police have made 458 arrests related to 314 money laundering cases, totaling nearly $60 million

About $15 million of this amount was reportedly laundered through cash withdrawals and transactions involving crypto. 

According to a recent report, those detained as victims were involved in a variety of financial crimes, including online shopping, job search scams, fraudulent investments, telephone fraud, and online romance deception.

In particular, Hong Kong law enforcement authorities uncovered cases in which money laundering organizations convinced some citizens to surrender their bank accounts for amounts ranging from $40 to $200. 

These accounts were subsequently used to launder illicit proceeds from various types of scams.

The investigation found that over the course of eight months, from last October to June this year, the criminal group circulated up to $15 million through cash withdrawals and cryptocurrency transactions.

Other discoveries made by Hong Kong police include the identification of a fictitious account under the control of members of a criminal organization. 

Money laundering and online scams: details of the operation and arrests in Hong Kong

It also emerged that this account received more than $27 million in valuable proceeds from illegal betting during the period between January last year and February this year. 

One of the accounts was used to receive funds from an online shopping-related scam, involving 40 victims. Among the individuals arrested were 330 men and 128 women, ranging in age from 15 to 82. 

Police noted that some of those detained were also victims of scams associated with online dating or job hunting. Victims stated that they did not trust individuals they met online and naively shared personal information.

It was found that members of the detained criminal group allegedly lured some of the arrested individuals by promising them cash refunds. 

These individuals were tricked into providing copies of their identity documents, taking selfies with their phones, and collaborating in secretly opening virtual bank accounts to facilitate money laundering.

The charges against Binance and crypto under investigation

Recently, Binance has been in the spotlight for several reasons. The temporary suspension of EUR transfers via SEPA, along with allegations of market manipulation and sanctions violations, has brought the exchange into the spotlight. 

Binance responded by announcing that SEPA deposit and withdrawal services would be available until 25 September, but with an increased focus on regulatory compliance and requiring additional personal details from selected users. 

In addition, the exchange was accused of involvement in transactions with sanctioned entities in Russia, which raised concerns about its compliance. Hence, Binance has stopped supporting transactions with some sanctioned Russian ruble banks.

In conjunction with a large wave of scams, the crypto scene was marked by a series of enforcement measures during this week. One target of such attacks was Friend.tech, a decentralized platform that has attracted the interest of cybercriminals because of its growing popularity.

Some reports dated 21 August uncovered a phishing deception, with individuals masquerading as Friend.tech on X. The warning came from on-chain monitoring system AegisWeb3, which advised users to be very careful. 

AegisWeb3’s warning highlighted the emergence of a fictitious profile, @friendtech_web3, which allegedly initiated an airdrop distribution scheme for the Friend token, luring people to a misleading website.

In addition, DeFiLlama‘s founder revealed this week that a new wave of crypto fraud has been exploiting Google Ads as a conduit. 

In this evolving scheme, attackers buy ad space on legitimate crypto websites through Google, then leverage URL injection to hijack users to malicious phishing platforms after they interact with the ad.

Alessia Pannone
Alessia Pannone
Graduated in communication sciences, currently student of the master's degree course in publishing and writing. Writer of articles from an SEO perspective, with care for indexing in search engines.