Hong Kong Crypto Customer Scammed in Alleged HK$1M ‘Hell Money’ Scheme

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Hong Kong Crypto Customer Scammed in Alleged HK$1M 'Hell Money' Scheme
  • Three employees of a Tsim Sha Tsui crypto exchange shop were detained for allegedly scamming a customer with counterfeit “hell banknotes.”
  • The victim transferred HK$1 million worth of USDT, but the suspects did not provide the agreed cash, leading to their arrest.
  • The HKPF seized 3,000 hell banknotes and advised residents to use licensed exchanges and inspect banknotes to avoid fraud.

According to reports by the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), three employees of a crypto exchange shop in Tsim Sha Tsui have been detained following allegations of a cryptocurrency scam. 

As revealed by South China Morning Post, the incident came to light when a 35-year-old man reported to the police on April 12 that he had been unable to retrieve cash after exchanging about HK$1 million worth of the digital currency Tether (USDT) at the shop. 

Per the complaint, the customer was shown stacks of “hell money” before making the transaction. For clarity, hell banknotes are celebratory currencies used in traditional Chinese rituals as offerings to ancestors or deities.

Following this report, the HKPF’s technology crime division arrested three men, aged between 31 and 34, on Wednesday. During the raid, security force officers seized 3,000 hell banknotes, a safe, and a note-counting machine from the premises. 

Further investigations revealed that suspects allegedly presented wads of HK$500 “hell banknotes,” prompting the victim to transfer approximately HK$1 million worth of USDT (Tether) to their crypto wallet.

In the aftermath of this transfer, the suspects reportedly made various excuses, refused to hand over the agreed-upon cash, and subsequently left the scene. 

Under Hong Kong law, individuals convicted of fraud can face up to 14 years in prison. In addition, an offender found guilty of obtaining under pretense may face up to 10 years of imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the HKPF has urged residents to conduct transactions through licensed and authorized cryptocurrency exchanges. They have also emphasized the importance of carefully inspecting banknotes for security features to avoid falling victim to such scams. Moreover, investigations into the case are ongoing.

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