Another new scam to enter the market is the black money scam or stained money scam.
Black money scam
A middle-aged Hong Kong resident recently lost HK$10 million (US$1.27 million) in a black money scam. The 50-year-old victim, whose name is Ma, transferred more than HK$8 million to buy a special liquid chemical to recover blackened banknotes.
She told the police that two con men duped her out of the amount between January and June this year. She met the first fraudster on social media and tricked her into transferring HK$1.7 million to six bank accounts in mainland China and Hong Kong from January 10 to March 29.
In April, he told Ma to safeguard money belonging to him, worth US$1.5 million. He also set up a meeting on the mainland with his friend to pass her the money.
The friend, who was a foreign national, met Ma on May 3 and brought her the cash. But here was the catch: the notes were blackened.
He then demonstrated to the woman, how to turn the black money into clean notes by applying a liquid chemical. Ma believed him and within one month, starting from May 9 and running to June 4, she transferred HK$8.3 million to six bank accounts to buy the special chemicals.
She suspected it was a scam and reported it to the police. But no arrests have been made yet.
Black money scams are common
In these “black money” scams, con artists will tell their victims they have piles of black paper, claiming they are genuine banknotes dyed to avoid the detection of authorities in war-torn countries. The victims are asked to buy extremely expensive chemicals to remove the dye and are usually promised a share of the recovered money.
Such scams date back to the 1990s and have carried on since. In 2016, a Libyan was arrested for cheating a Hong Kong woman he met on Skype out of US$1 million to buy a special liquid to recover US banknotes he claimed to have blackened on purpose when trying to get the money out of his home country.