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A man walks past a money exchange shop in the Central district of Hong Kong. Photo: AP

Hong Kong thieves bag nearly HK$4 million in bogus bitcoin transaction

  • Two employees from money exchange company conned in Tin Hau
  • One suspect caught after brief chase but accomplice escaped with cash
Two staff members from a money exchange company were conned out of HK$3.85 million (US$495,000) in a bogus bitcoin transaction in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

The men, aged 31 and 33, managed to catch one suspect, a 28-year-old man, after a brief chase in Tin Hau, police said. A second suspect escaped with the money.

The employees, who work in a Tsim Sha Tsui money changer, took the money to buy bitcoin in a shop on King’s Road near the junction with Tsing Fung Street in Tin Hau around 1pm.

According to police, the suspects were inside the shop posing as sellers.

“The money was counted in the shop, before one of the two ‘sellers’ left the shop with the money to carry out some document procedure,” a police source said.

A security worker walks past a money exchange outlet in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

After waiting for a while, the two money exchange employees grew suspicious and took the other seller to find his accomplice. The 28-year-old ran when the pair said they were going to call police.

The 33-year-old lost his footing and fell, injuring his right arm, during the pursuit, while his younger colleague managed to stop and subdue the suspect in the car park of Park Tower on King’s Road after a brief scuffle.

The injured man was taken to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai for treatment, while the suspect was taken to North Point Police Station where he was being held for questioning.

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According to the source, initially investigations revealed that the transaction had been arranged through a middleman.

In January, there were two reports of robberies involving the transaction of digital money. On January 4, a gang stole bitcoin valued at more than HK$3 million from a 37-year-old bitcoin trader after he met them to make a transaction in their car.

They first paid the victim with cash but took it straight back after he transferred 15 bitcoin. They later kicked him out of the vehicle on a hillside on Tai Tam Road in Chai Wan.

On January 18, a female cryptocurrency trader was lured to a Kwun Tong office for a deal and robbed of HK$3.5 million in cash at a knifepoint.