Hounax scam: company changed website address more than 30 times to evade detection

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The virtual asset exchange platform Hounax, accused of duping Hongkongers out of more than HK$150 million (US$19.24 million), changed its website address more than 30 times to evade detection and continue its alleged cryptocurrency scam. According to the force, 158 residents have reported losing about HK$155 million after being lured into investing through the unlicensed platform. Officers from the cybersecurity and technology crime bureau had identified 32 websites linked to Hounax since October and had forwarded the information to relevant authorities and organisations, the force on Wednesday said. “Fraudsters constantly change their website addresses in an attempt to bypass warnings issued by the force’s Scameter search engine and evade police investigation,” police said. The Scameter, accessible through the CyberDefender website and app, helps the public identify suspicious web addresses, emails, platform usernames, bank accounts, mobile phone numbers and IP addresses. Police said deceptive websites typically held domain registrations only for a brief period. “Apart from paying attention to the risk of fraud, investors should thoroughly understand the characteristics of the investment products and platforms, as well as their own risk tolerance,” it added. A check by the Post on Wednesday found the company’s websites, Facebook page and accounts on X (formerly Twitter) were unavailable, with one of the pages saying it was a “deceptive site”. “Attackers on www.hounax.org may trick you into doing something dangerous like installing software or revealing your personal information (for example, passwords, phone numbers, or credit cards),” the warning message displayed on the “deceptive site” said. Hongkongers who lost HK$148 million in crypto scam say public warning came too late The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) listed Hounax as a suspicious virtual asset trading platform on November 1 after it was found to have lied about its ties with a financial institution and a venture capital firm. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has said authorities might further empower regulators to tackle cryptocurrency scams after the SFC was unable to shut down the unlicensed platform Hounax. After lawmakers criticised the SFC over its handling of the case and called for the government to close legal loopholes, the city leader said his administration would review the relevant legislation. Hounax platform allegedly scams 131 Hongkongers out of nearly HK$120 million When revealing the alleged scam on Saturday, police said the platform, which claimed to be run by a Singaporean company, started operating early this year and appeared to target Hong Kong investors. But the force found no links with the massive JPEX cryptocurrency exchange scandal, which affected 2,623 people and involved more than HK$1.6 billion in losses as of Sunday. Police have arrested 66 people in connection with the JPEX scandal. All the suspects had been released on bail pending further investigation.

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