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Cybercrimes in Hong Kong, China – Businesses Beware

Posted On   date12/03/2014

Cybercrimes in Hong Kong, China – Businesses Beware

Hong Kong has one of the world’s most bustling and thriving economies, and it is an international hub for business dealings. It is also a hotbed for fraudulent criminal activity. In 2013, cybercrimes in Hong Kong rose by 70 percent, though the overall crime rate actually fell to a 10-year low.  These numbers point to the fact that criminals are no longer looking to the streets for physical crime but are using technology to remotely victimize businesses and individuals.  The profits are there to be had.

It makes sense, really. Cases in Hong Kong involving hi-tech factors were only solved 10 percent of the time as criminals are able to use technology as a shield for anonymity. The rise in the cybercrimes in Hong Kong were fueled by two main categories: email scams and complex extortion.

In the case of the email scams, many of the most popular international tactics for fraud were implemented. Scammers promised quick returns on investments, or products delivery that never happened, or posed as legitimate companies or banks and asked for account information. The loss of money in email scams quadrupled in Hong Kong in 2013 and there were over 5,100 cases reported.  Very sophisticated and professional websites are also used in order to convince potential investors.  China private investigators say these cases are complex and conducted by experienced con-artists and criminals.

Extortion crimes are certainly not unique to Hong Kong, but it seems that the scammers in the country have a strong handle on how to make it work to their financial advantage. Blackmail reports, particularly when it came to business executives and owners, rose 150 percent in 2013 to 733 cases. In Hong Kong, “sextortions” were the main driver of blackmail crimes and revenue. Scammers baited victims into steamy message and photo conversations and then used that evidence against them to demand money – or else risk releasing the embarrassing and damaging evidence to family members and co-workers.

If you do business in Hong Kong, or plan to, it is important to understand that you may be targeted for these or other cybercrimes. To protect your reputation and assets, you should always:

Get a background check. Before you enter into any business agreements in Hong Kong, either with vendors or new employees, get an international background check for employment. You cannot take people at their word, even if it seems that they have all the right answers. Get the proof on paper.

Avoid being misled. Whether it is a suggestion from someone that you cut corners in business, or a flirtatious internet chat from a stranger, if something feels wrong about the interaction, avoid it. Scammers target the good nature in their victims and the fact that people are by nature very trusting. It pays to be cynical sometimes though – particularly when it comes to anything that could compromise your business operations or reputation.  Be skeptical and always protect your private information.

Have professionals on your side. Hire a firm that specializes in international due diligence to keep you abreast of issues with your partners or employees in countries like Hong Kong. You have enough to worry about with running your business. Let these experts handle vetting those involved in your dealings for you.  Doing business with a fraud can ruin your company and reputation.

Learn how to invest and do business in Asia with less risk.  This can be done by doing your homework, being skeptical, asking for references, and hiring a professional to properly screen the case for fraud, and verify your potential investment in Asia.  Hong Kong is full of opportunities, but there is also a significant risk of fraud, so it is essential you look at potential deals very closely and verify.

In Hong Kong, as in other places in the world, you must move cautiously when it comes to your business. Take the time to really get to know what you are facing on the international scale and then go with your gut when something seems amiss.  When in doubt, consult a professional investigator.

C. Wright
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