Suspect caught in $1.5 million cryptocurrency grab and run

Roxanne Li

A 24-year-old bar worker has been arrested on suspicion of stealing HK$1.5 million in cryptocurrency after locking up a woman and two friends in a shop in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The man, named Lau, remained in detention last night after his arrest on Tuesday. Officers also seized clothes worn by Lau during the alleged theft and a phone thought to be related to the case.

Police said yesterday the victim had posted in a WhatsApp cryptocurrency group that she intended to sell her digital holdings on May 4.

Lau then chatted with her and the two agreed to meet in a shopping arcade in Chungking Mansion that day.

The woman went with a colleague and a friend to a store there at noon. In the shop, Lau asked the woman to transfer HK$1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency to his bank account and claimed he was getting the cash from the staff room.

”But then he locked up the woman and her friends in the store and ran away,” said senior inspector Tong Sin-tung of Yau Tsim District.

Investigators found the store to be a shell company operation that had been rented for HK$4,000 a month since early April.

A money-counting machine in the store was not connected to a power source and a computer could not be used.

Tong said there was a back door to the store, and it was believed Lau left through it after going into the staff room.

Lau was arrested in Sham Shui Po at around 11am on Tuesday based on what was seen on a recording from a closed-circuit television camera.

Police also said it appeared to have been a one-man robbery.

Police urged people to pay attention to the risks associated with trading in cryptocurrency since it is an unregulated business and to use reputable platforms for trading.

roxanne.li@singtaonewscorp.com

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