Hong Kong Binance users fall victim to $450K scam through a surge of fraudulent text messages

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In the last two weeks, Binance accounts have faced numerous phishing attacks, prompting Hong Kong police to issue warnings and advise users to be vigilant. These incidents add to a series of security breaches in the cryptocurrency industry, ranging from DNS attacks to hacks. Even prominent figures like billionaire Mark Cuban have not been immune to these cyber threats.

Hong Kong residents using Binance have disclosed a collective loss of H$3.5 million (equivalent to around $446,835 at current exchange rates). Local law enforcement revealed that 11 individuals fell prey to phishing text messages, mistakenly believing them to be from Binance, the leading cryptocurrency trading platform globally in terms of trading volume.

Hong Kong police warned users of the scam in an Oct. 9 post to its Facebook page dubbed “CyberDefender.”

Authorities explained that after users clicked on the link and, in what they believed was a “verification” of their personal information, hackers were able to gain complete access to their Binance accounts. Subsequently, the hackers proceeded to abscond with all the assets held in the users’ wallets.

Law enforcement has requested users who suspect they’ve received a potentially fraudulent message to record such messages in the “fraud prevention” section on the official website. Furthermore, the police shared a link to a recently updated list of accredited virtual asset trading platforms, as endorsed by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).

Presently, HashKey and OSL are the sole cryptocurrency exchanges granted full licenses for retail investment activities in Hong Kong.

Inaugurated in May, CyberDefender is an initiative initiated by the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force, with the objective of enhancing the awareness of online security risks among the local population.

Hong Kong has seen a surge in scams and fraudulent activities targeting crypto investors recently. The JPEX crypto exchange scandal alone has resulted in estimated losses of $180 million, leading to over 2,300 complaints filed by Hong Kong-based investors with local police.

JPEX, an unlicensed exchange, attracted residents with enticing ads and unrealistically high returns on lending products.

On September 15, the exchange imposed exorbitant withdrawal fees, leaving users unable to access their funds. In response, the SFC announced plans to publish a list of both fully licensed and “suspicious” crypto platforms to combat potential fraud, marking this scandal as one of the largest financial frauds in Hong Kong’s history.

Authorities are promoting the use of offline cold wallets, especially for significant amounts of virtual assets, to reduce the risk of hacking. They also encourage Hong Kong residents to utilize the Scameter search engine available on the CyberDefender website, which helps identify suspicious web addresses, emails, usernames, bank accounts, and phone numbers or IP addresses.

In the first half of 2023, Hong Kong police dealt with nearly 20,000 fraud cases, marking a 52% increase from the same period in 2022. The total losses in 2023 reached HK$2.69 billion (around $345.5 million), showing a 28% increase compared to 2022’s HK$2.1 billion (approximately $268.17 million).

(Source: Coin Telegraph | FxStreet)

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