Whilst there are many ways to ascertain and verify the identity of the counterparty on the other end and the legitimacy of an alleged investment deal, if you find yourself an unfortunate victim of an investment scam, it is crucial to prioritize your subsequent action to maximise your chance of recovering money from cybercrime.
The first course of action is to approach the recipient bank for recourse. Whilst this should be done immediately in any event, this could achieve little. Banks will usually only follow their client’s (i.e. owner of the accounts) banking instructions and will decline to act in the absence of a Court Order.
In circumstances like this where the scam involves account(s) located in Hong Kong you should contact the Hong Kong Police Force immediately. The police will be in the best position to quickly freeze the recipient account and to communicate with the relevant banks with regards to the account(s).
The Hong Kong Police Force and banks in Hong Kong have an agreed protocol to obtain information as to the remaining balance of suspicious account(s) implicated in investment scams in the event that the Hong Kong Police Force can confirm there is fraud involved. If the account(s) have a certain amount of money left in them, the Hong Kong Police Force can also freeze the account(s) pursuant to this protocol.
The quickest way to do so is to submit an online report to the Cybercrime Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force using the following link: https://www.erc.police.gov.hk/cmiserc/CCC/PolicePublicPage?language=en. With the limited amount of information that could be provided to the Hong Kong Police using this method, it is essential that you put forward the following crucial information:-
- State the purpose of your report e.g. request for investigation and freezing of suspicious bank account(s) used in an investment scam.
- Particulars of the transfers made which should include the date of each transfer, amount and currency of each transfer, unredacted recipient bank account number, name of the recipient bank, name of the owner of the bank account.
- A chronological summary of how the investment scam came about and how you discovered the crime.
- Upload important documents such as email communications with fraudsters (which should be organised in a way for easy handling), any agreement signed in connection with the scam and wire transfer slips.
Always remember to monitor your contact channels for any follow up emails or telephone calls from the police.
If the police confirm that there are funds left in the account(s) and that the account(s) have been frozen, you may consider initiating a civil proceeding against the account holder(s) to retrieve the money by way of garnishee proceedings.
At this stage you may also consider other actions such as a civil injunction or disclosure order so as to commence tracing (used in circumstances where the account(s) are empty). This, however, will be subject to considerations such as whether your legal costs are justified compared to the amount of your claim, and also whether you are able to produce cogent information with documentary evidence to support the paperwork required for such applications.
It should be remembered that fraudsters usually operate very quickly and the window of opportunity for you to act is very small before the funds are further dissipated. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you act quickly and report the scam to the police at the earliest opportunity.
If you are the victim of financial fraud involving Hong Kong, you can also contact us for urgent assistance with contacting the police and the relevant banks, particularly if you reside outside Hong Kong.
Contact us today if you are a victim of an investment scam and require assistance with drafting a police report and initiating civil proceedings to recover money.