Hong Kong securities watchdog puts virtual asset trading platforms Aramex and DIFX on alert list for suspected fraud

Hong Kong securities watchdog puts virtual asset trading platforms Aramex and DIFX on alert list for suspected fraud

Hong Kong’s securities watchdog and police have issued a warning about two virtual asset trading platforms suspected of fraud after investors could not withdraw cash they had deposited.

Trading platforms Aramex and DIFX are alleged to have used social media and messaging apps to lure victims into investing money into supposed cryptocurrency assets, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said on Thursday.

But the SFC said investors were later unable to withdraw their money and the regulator appealed to the public to be “cautious about too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities and advice” posted on social media and instant messaging apps.

Both platforms adopted names that resembled legitimate companies.

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The Securities and Futures Commission’s office in Quarry Bay. The watchdog said investors should engage with properly licensed financial institutions to make cryptocurrency or other trades. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Aramex used a name similar to a logistics company listed on the Dubai Financial Market exchange and DIFX resembled a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange.

But there is no suggestion either of the trading platforms are linked to the companies with similar names.

“The public should also be aware that fraudulent, unlicensed platforms will often adopt names similar to those of legitimate entities to confuse investors,” the commission said. “Investors should stay vigilant against fraud when making investment decisions.”

Individuals on chat groups who claimed to be investment experts referred victims to websites operated by Aramex and DIFX.

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Victims were asked to deposit money into specific bank accounts, but ran into problems when they attempted to withdraw their funds.

The commission has added Aramex and DIFX, as well as their associated websites, to its alert list of suspicious trading platforms.

It identified more than eight websites operated by Aramex and six by DIFX and police have blocked access to the sites.

The Post has contacted police for more information on possible victims and the amount of financial losses.

Hongkongers who lost HK$148 million in cryptocurrency scam say public warning came too late

Hong Kong investors have fallen victim to a series of virtual scams in recent months, including fraudulent virtual asset platforms Hounax and JPEX.

Police said early last month they logged 164 reports from victims of the Hounax scam, which involved about HK$159 million (US$20.3 million) in losses.

Authorities are also investigating the JPEX case, which involved losses of about HK$1.61 billion.

About 67 people have been arrested in the JPEX case, which involved more than 2,600 complaints from victims.

Investors were reminded to remain vigilant about investment scams and only deal with properly licensed financial institutions to make cryptocurrency or other trades.

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