Cyber Crime – Fraudulent Fund Transfers & Email Scam
In recent years, the Commercial Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force has reported that there have been an increasing number of fraud cases involving unauthorized fund transfers as a result of fraudulent email instructions. Culprits hack email accounts and cheat victims by all possible means to make fund remittances. Typically, such email instructions are sent from fraudsters purporting to be the bank account holder by sending emails from the stolen email accounts. The fraudsters obtain the bank account holder’s personal information by gaining unauthorized/illegal access (i.e. hacking) into their email accounts. In some of the reported cases, the fraudsters would use the stolen email accounts to send fraudulent fund remittance instructions to the relevant bank. Relying on the email instructions, the bank is deceived into transferring money to an unknown bank account controlled by the fraudsters.
In another typical scenario, fraudsters obtain information from stolen emails about certain transactions between two or more companies. They then use the stolen email accounts to pretend to be one of the companies involved in the transaction and thereby deceive the email recipients to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.
Another common example involves fraudsters setting up scam websites pretending to be genuine business corporations. Typically, these websites purport to be financial advisers claiming that they could help customers in making significant profit from various financial markets (e.g. the stock / forex markets). The fraudsters often send deceptive emails or make phone calls to victims to deceive them to transfer funds to bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.
The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) within the Hong Kong Police Force is responsible for handling cyber security issues and carrying out technology crime investigations, computer forensic examinations and prevention of technology crime. For more information, please navigate to CSTCB website. Morley Chow Seto can help victims in the situations referred to above by lodging a formal complaint to the CSTCB and assisting the victims in making a witness statement to assist the police in their investigation.
If the crime is discovered at an early stage, we are also able to work with the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (please see JFIU) to stop the fraudulent transfer by freezing the relevant bank accounts. We are also experienced in commencing civil proceedings in Hong Kong to recover money from the balance left in the bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.
Computer Crime: The law on crimes relating to computers is to be found in the Telecommunications Ordinance Cap 106, the Crimes Ordinance Cap 200 and the Theft Ordinance Cap 106. Perhaps the most oft used law is section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance Cap. 200 which governs dishonest access to a computer. Before studying law, our partner Eric Seto acquired a Bachelor of Commerce in Information Technology and Accounting at the University of Western Australia. He also subsequently obtained a post-graduate degree in Information Management. We can provide experienced legal and technical understanding of this area of the law. See also Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB)
Recent Developments: the Secretary for Justice has been granted leave to challenge the acquittals of 4 defendants acquitted of obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent. The question of law involved can be found HERE. The appeal will be heard on 26th February 2019.
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