Online trading

Scammers built an e-commerce site to cheat the S’pore man out of $800,000

Do not freely disclose personal data

It all started in February last year when James received a message from a stranger who said, “Hey, I’m back in Hong Kong now.”

He incorrectly assumed the sender was a restaurant owner he had befriended on previous business trips to the city.

James started messaging the sender, who continued to pretend to be his “friend”.

He says, “Looking back, I made the mistake of divulging too much information during our discussions. I mentioned that the pandemic had hit me hard and affected my income. So the scammer took advantage of my vulnerability.”

About a month later, under the pretense of helping him, the “friend” sent him information about a forex trading house, urging him to try his luck and make some money to get by.

The “friend” promised to give him useful advice and told him that he would slowly gain confidence in trading. “It sounded interesting. And since I was doing the transactions, I saw no harm in trying since this ‘friend’ said it was easy to make money,” says James.

He was led to believe he was dealing with a genuine trading house in Hong Kong because he had to submit personal documents and answer an investor questionnaire to ensure he knew the risks of such transactions.

James wanted to start the trade with around $20,000 and was told to buy cryptocurrency as the money could be transferred immediately. Although not the norm for many trading houses, James was unsuspecting as he was making steady profits.

At one point he made a withdrawal request for $100,000 and the transfer to his bank account here was completed almost immediately.

This convinced him the transactions were genuine and he ended up putting $800,000 of his savings into the game.