Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and local law enforcement have jointly issued a public warning against an entity masquerading as crypto exchange MEXC Global.

The scammers are reportedly pretending to be a legitimate virtual asset trading platform (VATP) and luring unsuspecting victims into participating in what appears to be a crypto investment scam.

The list of blocked web domains included in the alert shows the scammers are using links with addresses that start with “mexc” and end in random alphabets akin to phishing links.

MEXC Global’s actual website does not appear in the list as of press time.

Fraud warning

The SFC has placed MEXC and its associated websites on the Suspicious Virtual Asset Trading Platforms Alert List as of Feb. 9, following intelligence shared between the SFC and the police under a joint working group focused on monitoring and investigating illegal activities in the virtual asset space.

Victims were reportedly drawn into social media or instant messaging chat groups under the guise of receiving free investment advice, only to be directed to MEXC-operated websites for crypto purchases. Subsequently, these individuals were prompted to deposit funds into specific bank accounts for investment purposes, facing difficulties when attempting to withdraw their funds later.

The Hong Kong Police have taken steps to block access to websites operated by MEXC. However, there is an ongoing concern that MEXC may continue to create new websites with similar domain names to perpetuate their fraudulent scheme. The public is urged to exercise caution and remain vigilant against such deceptive practices.

The SFC’s repeated warnings emphasize the importance of due diligence and the need for investors to be wary of “too-good-to-be-true” investment opportunities, especially those promoted through social media platforms and instant messaging apps.

The regulatory body said that fraudulent, unlicensed platforms often adopt names similar to legitimate entities to mislead investors. The public is advised to verify the legitimacy of virtual asset trading platforms before engaging in any investment activities to safeguard against potential fraud.

Regulatory crackdown

The warning against MEXC comes amidst a broader regulatory crackdown on unlicensed crypto operations in Hong Kong following the introduction of a regulatory framework for licensing crypto exchanges last year.

The SFC recently reminded entities engaged in crypto exchange services to apply for licenses by Feb. 29 or cease operations by May 31. To date, Hong Kong has issued licenses to two platforms under the new framework — HashKey and OSL.

Additionally, Hong Kong authorities have launched a public consultation on legislative proposals aimed at implementing a comprehensive licensing regime for providers of over-the-counter virtual asset trading services.

This initiative seeks to mandate licensing requirements for entities offering spot trading services for virtual assets and proposes extending the oversight of the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE) to encompass all over-the-counter virtual asset services. This includes monitoring licensees’ compliance with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing standards.