Hong Kong YouTuber Breaks Silence After JPEX Video, Calls For Crypto Investor Education

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More than two dozen people have been arrested in connection with JPEX, a digital currency scheme, including prominent social media influencers. Leo, in his 30s, was possibly the only full-time Cantonese-speaking YouTuber in Hong Kong specialising in cryptocurrency. In August 2020, he posted a video about JPEX, explaining his suspicions about the platform and its product which claimed to offer over 40% of annualised returns.

Two weeks later, Leo was beaten up on the street and he received a series of chilling anonymous text messages. He was convinced that he was targeted because of his JPEX comments. News of the attack spread in Hong Kong’s small community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Cheung To, an influencer, said that people in the circle had been warned to “stay away” from JPEX because of their “ferocious” nature.

In 2021, JPEX started a citywide advertising campaign which included billboards at MTR stations and major harbour crossing tunnels. It promoted itself as a Japanese exchange, until the Japan Exchange Group (JPX) issued a statement in February 2022 to distance itself from JPEX. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) first contacted JPEX in March 2022 and included it on an “alert list” four months later.

However, in its nine later statements that appealed for caution in trading virtual assets, JPEX was never mentioned. It was only in September 2022 that the FSC named JPEX in a statement which mentioned “suspicious features” and triggered its dramatic downfall.

Leo pursued his YouTube ambitions and increased his subscriber base from 1,000 to 19,000. He unlocked his 2020 JPEX video last month and spoke about the attack in a new video posted on September 19. He said that some followers of influencer Chan Yee, who was among those arrested, remained devoted to him and to JPEX “like a religion”.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu pledged to increase investor education efforts after the JPEX controversy. Leo and cryptocurrency influencer Cheung To agreed that investors had to protect themselves through education to avoid falling prey to fraudsters. Cheung appealed to the authorities to tap into the experience of the wider cryptocurrency world to help organise the education drive. Leo warned investors lured by the prospect of easy profits that the bottom line was always “don’t be too greedy”.

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