TechNode’s recent report on Hong Kong crypto currency exchange HKCEx evoked much concerns from the crypto currency community, as HKCEx is suspected as a scam. Here we write this post to expound on the whole process of the story and express our deepest apologies to those who have been affected by the spread of the news.
TechNode published a press release from HKCEx in 5/15/14, which claimed that the company has received $25 million of funding from some private funds to purchase Bitcoins on the platform. We shortly discovered that it is not appropriate to position the funds as investment or funding and revised the post.
However, the matter grew worse when the domain of HKCEx, hkcex.net, becomes vacant a few days later and we received a lot of complaints from HKCEx users who can’t withdraw funds from the platform. In addition to the redemption problem, investors also complained about the security and transaction problems of the exchange.
A HKCEx user who asked to stay anonymous send us the screenshots of his accounts. He also attached a list of HKCEx victims, adding that an European client has lost more than 80 Bitcoins.
By then we started to doubt the creditability of HKCEx and emailed their representative Lavin Lam for comment. Lavin responded that “We had a massive DDoS attack and now working hard to restore our infrastructure and continue our payouts.” In response to our request on releasing his contact means to users, he invited us to visit their office and we are actively reaching out to have an interview with him in Hong Kong.
But just before this press, a Hong Kong media reported that HKCEx’s address is fake. The address they announced on the website, Belcher’s Street, 56, Sai Wan, Hong Kong, is a property agency and a convenience store. The post added that some victims have reported to the police. Our Hong Kong-based reporter is still contacting HKCEx.
Another scam fact about the exchange is that it claimed to be one the first Bitcoin exchanges that received MSO license (Money Service Operators) from the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. However, the MSO license number 14-02-01350, which is previously shown in the company’s website, is registered by heavy metal exchange MG Foreign Exchange Limited and a reader who claimed to have visited MG in Hong Kong said the company denied to have any relationship with HKCEx.
Moreover, Bitcoin trading price in HKCEx is around $150 higher as compared with other exchanges, according to an industry insider. The high transaction price attracted Bitcoin investors to charge money and move bricks to earn arbitrage and lead funding cheated.
Another press release HKCEx sent to us claimed they have launched a network of 10 Bitcoin ATMs in 10 shopping and financial centers. But some users said that the ATMs are nowhere to be seen in Hong Kong.
What’s more weird about HKCEx is that it required users to submit notarized passport copy to their “parent company” before withdraw funds from the platform. This measure is considered by many users as a step to hold off from dealing with the matter.
According to an industrial insider, major Bitcoin platforms like Bitstamp and Mt Gox used to ask clients to submit resident doc and passport copy when they need to deposit or withdraw fiat for the purpose of ID verification. But now with the software like Jumio Bison the process of ID verification is becoming automated and users do not have to email ID copies.
If the site was under DDOS attack as claimed by the company, the long duration of the attack (several days) indicates they are not doing their best to mitigate the attacks, said an anonymous expert, adding that most exchanges have flexible bandwidth protocols to mitigate against DDOS attacks.
Moreover, if they are not technically capable to do important things like that, then it is unlikely that they have attracted any VC investments like they claimed, he added.
Once again, we apologize sincerely to all those who have suffered economic losses from the spread of the news. We will definitely be more cautious in handling crypt-currency news tips in the future.