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Fraudsters in Coworking Space

Updated: Apr 25

 



 

Recently, we read a news article regarding a scam involving coworking space. The case involved fraudsters using meeting room of a coworking space to carry out their scams.  Since coworking spaces offer hourly rental of meeting rooms, fraudsters easily take this advantage to carry out unlawful activities there and make it difficult for the police to trace who they are. 

 

Our coworking space also came close to encountering such individuals. We considered exposing this matter, but since we only had suspicions and no actual cases had occurred, and we couldn't be certain if the individuals were genuine fraudsters, we hesitated to report them.

 

Here's how the situation unfolded:

A suspected fraudster, Mr. A, contacted us expressing interest in renting a meeting room. However, he didn't seem to have the sense of punctuality.  He didn't show up within the agreed-upon appointment time, and when we called him to inquire if he was coming, Mr. A stated that he needed more time. As we were busy that day, he mentioned that he would reschedule with us.

Two days later, Mr. A sent one of his colleagues to view our coworking space and record a short video of the meeting room.

 

On the following evening, around ten o'clock, Mr. A contacted my colleague via WhatsApp.  He would like to book our meeting room the next day. However, since we couldn't confirm the availability of the meeting room for the next day, my colleague didn't immediately accept the request.

 

Nonetheless, Mr. A kept pressing for an answer. As we also wanted to secure the business, we suggested he use another vacant small room. He mentioned that four people would be coming, and despite the cramped space of the smaller room, they didn't mind and even proposed to come early for setup.

Since it was a long-term rental plan, our coworking space required certain company documents and ID card copies from the renter. My colleague sent Mr. A a form to fill out.  The payment details would be provided until the form was completed. Due to the urgency and late hours, my colleague acted careful to ask about the business nature of Mr. A's company. He claimed it was trade and shared us his company's website.  We casually skimmed through the pages of the website, which displayed luxury items such as handbags and watches.

 

Upon receiving filled form from Mr. A, we noticed that many details were left incomplete, and the requested documents were not fully provided. We became somewhat concerned and thought of obtaining the missing information when they arrived the next day. Meanwhile, we decided to re-examine all the submitted information, and to our surprise, we discovered that the address on their company's website matched our coworking space's location.

 

This raised significant suspicions among us. Why would they list our address as their permanent company address?  As a result, we declined their reservation.  At that moment, Mr. A suddenly changed their tone of communication.  He switched from polite written communication to rushed voice messages, indicating their desperation.  In their voice messages, they claimed that their clients had already booked air tickets to come over, and our refusal of the booking would cause significant losses for them. They even threatened to leave negative reviews of us online. However, these coercive tactics only raised further suspicions, so we chose to ignore them. Meanwhile, they also contacted another colleague of ours. Since it was late at night, our colleague didn't feel the need to respond. Mr. A, seeing that coercion didn't work, resorted to offering a higher price of triple the amount to rent the smaller room.

 

Mr. A continued to inquire about room availability over the next two days. Eventually, after about two weeks, their website was completely taken down and no longer operational. During this period, Mr. A continued to contact us using different identities and avatars to inquire about meeting rooms.

 

The news article about the scam revealed a group of individuals renting a meeting room of the coworking space in Tsim Sha Tsui and luring clients to bring valuable items such as luxury bags and watches to sell to them. The scammers would claim that they needed to bring the these high-value luxury items to another room for inspection, but then they never came back.



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