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SFC warns public of HongKongDAO and BitCuped for involvement in suspected virtual asset-related frauds

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) today warned the public of suspected virtual asset-related frauds involving entities operating under the names of "Hong Kong Digital Research Institute" or "HongKongDAO" and "BitCuped" (Notes 1 and 2).

At the SFC's request, the Hong Kong Police Force has taken steps to block access to the websites of HongKongDAO and BitCuped. The SFC also issued cease and desist letters to relevant website operators requesting such websites to cease offering for purchase a token issued by HongKongDAO.


HongKongDAO has issued a token known as "HKD" or "HongKongDAO" (HKD Token), which is available for purchase on HongKongDAO's website.

The SFC suspects HongKongDAO may be disseminating false and misleading information about itself and its business through online channels. An online article claims that HongKongDAO:

  • applied for licences to conduct regulated activities with the SFC in July 2022;
  • obtained Type 4 (advising on securities) and Type 9 (asset management) licences in March 2021, allowing it to engage in such regulated activities from 31 July 2020; and
  • is bidding for the "Hong Kong Digital Currency Exchange Licence", which the article implies is related to the Hong Kong Government's regulatory framework for stablecoins.

None of the above claims is true, but they may give a false and misleading impression that HongKongDAO's services and business are properly licensed and legitimate, inducing others to acquire or subscribe for the HKD Token.


The SFC notes that BitCuped claims on its website that "Laura Cha" and "Nicolas Aguzin" serve as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer respectively, when in fact none of them has any affiliations with BitCuped (Notes 3 and 4).

Online investment scams may involve any type of assets and are perpetrated through multiple channels. Those who fall victim can suffer substantial losses. The SFC once again takes this opportunity to warn the public to be cautious about too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities and advice posted on social media platforms and via instant messaging apps (Note 5), on which they may be lured to invest by individuals who are not investment professionals. Investors should stay vigilant and beware of fraud when making investment decisions.



  1. Hong Kong Digital Research Institute or HongKongDAO claims to be a blockchain service platform operating at the website of https://hkdao.info/. It was placed on the SFC's Suspicious Virtual Asset Trading Platforms Alert List on 24 November 2023.
  2. BitCuped claims to provide trading services in virtual assets and stocks and operates at the website of https://bitcuped.com/. It was placed on the SFC's Suspicious Virtual Asset Trading Platforms Alert List on 10 November 2023.
  3. Mrs Laura Cha is Chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX).
  4. Mr Nicolas Aguzin is an Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of HKEX.
  5. HongKongDAO appears to operate at least two Telegram groups, one in Chinese with over 10,000 members and the other in English with over 1,700 members. In the Telegram groups, the increase in the purported "market" price and future market value of the HKD token appears to be touted to lure investors to purchase the HKD token.

Last update: 6 Dec 2023

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