Scammers steal HK$3.5 million worth of virtual assets from Binance accounts using fake text messages, Hong Kong police say

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Scammers are using phishing text messages purportedly sent by the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform, Binance, to get details of its clients and their passwords before stealing virtual assets from their accounts, Hong Kong police have warned. The latest scam prompted the force to issue a warning on its CyberDefender Facebook page on Monday, urging local investors to remain vigilant. In the past two weeks, 11 Hongkongers reported to police that virtual assets with an estimated value of HK$3.5 million (US$446,835) had been stolen from their Binance accounts, according to the force. Police said scammers recently sent out phishing text messages telling Binance account holders to click on the link provided to verify their identity before a certain deadline. “[The fake message warned] their accounts will be disabled if the users fail to do so,” police said on their CyberDefender page. According to the force, the account details and passwords will be stolen if clients click on the attached link connected to a bogus website or application, and then follow instructions to input personal information to verify their identity. Scammers then use the passwords to transfer virtual assets out of their accounts. Hong Kong JPEX cryptocurrency scandal: suspect arrested on arrival at airport Police have urged investors to trade using licensed cryptocurrency exchange platforms in Hong Kong for better protection. “Additionally, large amounts of virtual assets should be stored in offline cold wallets such as external storage devices to reduce the risk of hacking attacks,” the force added. Only two cryptocurrency trading platforms – OSL Digital Securities Limited and Hash Blockchain Limited – have been licensed to serve Hong Kong retail customers since new Securities and Futures Commission virtual asset rules came into effect on June 1. Hong Kong police arrest 2 over HK$11 million bond scam using ‘free office’ lure Police also urged residents to use the force’s Scameter search engine, accessible via the CyberDefender website, to check for scams. It provides information to help the public identify suspicious web addresses, emails, platform usernames, bank accounts and mobile phone numbers or IP addresses. Police handled 18,743 deception cases between January and June this year, an increase of 52 per cent from 12,326 logged over the same period in 2022. Losses from cases this year reached HK$2.69 billion, up 28 per cent from HK$2.1 billion recorded in the same period in 2022.

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