Four Chinese nationals in Australia are being charged with an online investment scam that allegedly caused losses of over US$100 million. The scam, which was mostly carried out in the US, involved the manipulation of legitimate electronic trading platforms that were licensed to foreign exchange brokers. Those brokers then allegedly provided the software to their clients, resulting in major financial losses worldwide.
According to The Straits Times, the Australian Federal Police say the US Secret Service notified them about the Chinese nationals’ links to the US-based scam. The accused Chinese nationals were residents of Sydney, but most of their victims were based in America. The organised scam included social engineering techniques which involved messaging platforms, dating and job websites to gain victims’ trust. After that trust was gained, the investment opportunity was introduced to the victims.
Those that took the bait, were then directed to both fraudulent and legitimate investment applications that dealt in cryptocurrency and foreign exchange. The fraudulent applications were manipulated to show a false positive return on investments. After subscribing to an investment service, the scammers then changed data to encourage further investments all while concealing the fact that the investors’ money was stolen.
An Australian detective commented that the case highlights the need to refrain from investing in foreign exchange or crypto-currency with people that one has only met online.