More than 1,640 people have now made complaints about losing money on the unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange JPEX, police said on Tuesday, as the number of arrests in the case rose to eight.
The combined losses reported amount to almost HK$1.2 billion, officers said.
They added that they have seized HK$8 million in cash, and frozen property and bank accounts worth around HK$60 million as part of their investigation.
Senior superintendent Kung Hing-fun of the Commercial Crime Bureau said many JPEX investors were "inexperienced" and appear to have been hoodwinked by social media influencers into believing opportunities that were "too good to be true".
"They used social media platforms, put up advertisements, and promoted 'high return, low risks' associated with the products of JPEX," Kung told reporters.
Speaking at the same press briefing, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it has been watching JPEX since last year, but lacked the power to act because the platform is not under its jurisdiction.
The commission's licensing director, Wong Lok-yan, said the watchdog will instead step up investor education, such as letting people know the risks of trading on unregulated platforms.
Last week, the SFC issued a warning regarding JPEX, saying it had observed some "suspicious features" regarding its practices.
The watchdog said it had placed the exchange on its 'Alert List' back in July 2022.