Binance SMS Scam in Hong Kong: $450K Loss

Hong Kong police have issued a warning concerning a recent Binance phishing scam targeting Hong Kong users of the platform. Hong Kong’s police force has raised the alarm after 11 Hong Kong-based Binance customers were targeted in a wave of phishing scams sent through text messages. Hong Kong police warned users of the scam in an Oct. 9 post to its Facebook page dubbed “CyberDefender.” “Recently, fraudsters posing as Binance sent text messages claiming that users must click the link in the message to verify their identity details before a deadline, otherwise their account would be deactivated.” Police said that once users clicked the link and supposedly “verified” their personal details, hackers were then able to gain full access to their Binance accounts, where they proceeded to steal all of the assets contained within the users’ wallets. According to the post, the phishing scheme has seen 11 Hong Kong-based Binance customers report combined losses of more than $446,000 (3.5 million Hong Kong dollars) in the last two weeks. The police have asked any users who believe that they’ve received a potentially fraudulent message to log the suspicious messages on the “fraud prevention” section of its official website. Additionally, the police displayed a link to a newly published list of verified virtual asset trading platforms, provided by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Currently, only two cryptocurrency exchanges — HashKey and OSL — are fully licensed for retail investment purposes in Hong Kong. Established in May, CyberDefender is a project launched by the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force, aimed at increasing local citizen’s awareness of online security risks. Meanwhile, Hong Kong crypto investors have been hit hard by scams and fraudulent activity in recent weeks, with the recent JPEX crypto exchange scandal ballooning to an estimated $180 million in losses and more than 2,300 Hong Kong-based investors filing complaints with local police. JPEX was an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange that allegedly lured in Hong Kong residents with flashy advertising and “suspiciously” high returns on its lending products. The exchange ratcheted up fees on withdrawals from its platform on Sept. 15, rendering funds inaccessible to its users. Following the scandal, which has been described as the largest financial fraud ever to hit Hong Kong, the SFC announced that it would publish a list of both fully licensed and “suspicious” crypto platforms in a bid to combat potential fraud.

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Hong Kong’s vigilant police force has sounded the alarm, issuing a stern cautionary note regarding a recent, audacious Binance phishing scam that has squarely targeted the city’s Binance users. With 11 Binance customers domiciled in Hong Kong falling prey to this wave of text message-based phishing expeditions, the situation has reached a critical juncture, prompting the Hong Kong police to issue a warning bulletin under the banner of “CyberDefender” on their Facebook page, a date-stamped publication on October 9.

Devious fraudsters, masquerading as Binance operatives, have been dispatching text messages to unsuspecting users, insisting that a click on the embedded link is imperative to authenticate their personal identity information before a looming deadline, else their account faces deactivation. Falling victim to this ruse, users inadvertently handed hackers the keys to their Binance fortresses. With unwarranted access thus granted, the malefactors swiftly made away with the entirety of assets contained within the beleaguered users’ digital wallets.

The aftermath of this phishing blitzkrieg has been nothing short of calamitous, with 11 Binance users based in Hong Kong collectively tallying losses exceeding $446,000 or 3.5 million Hong Kong dollars over a mere fortnight. Perturbed by this rise in online villainy, the police authorities have called upon all potential targets of these fraudulent missives to diligently document such suspect messages in the designated “fraud prevention” segment of their official website.

Furthermore, the police have thoughtfully provided a hyperlink to an updated catalog of certified virtual asset trading platforms, a compilation courtesy of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). As it stands today, only two cryptocurrency exchanges, HashKey and OSL, have secured the coveted status of being fully licensed for retail investment activities in Hong Kong.

Fast forward to the present, CyberDefender, conceived in May, continues to champion the cause of online security awareness among the citizenry of Hong Kong, an initiative hatched by the astute Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s cryptocurrency investors have weathered a relentless storm of scams and fraudulent stratagems in recent weeks, the most glaring being the ballooning scandal involving the JPEX crypto exchange. The losses from this debacle have swelled to an estimated $180 million, driving over 2,300 Hong Kong-based investors to launch formal grievances with local law enforcement.

JPEX, an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange, lured unsuspecting Hong Kong residents with alluring advertising and dubiously high returns on lending products. To add insult to injury, the exchange inexplicably hiked fees on withdrawals from its platform on September 15, effectively imprisoning the funds of its users.

In the wake of this seismic financial scandal, considered the largest in Hong Kong’s history, the SFC has pledged to publish a comprehensive list that demarcates fully licensed cryptocurrency platforms from those shadowed by suspicion, a move designed to stem the tide of potential fraud.

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