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A robbery in Hong Kong puts the dangers of informal crypto trading into sharp focus.

Knife-wielding crooks took HK$3.5 million (US$448,700) from a female cryptocurrency trader after luring her to an office to conduct a deal on Monday afternoon.

The robbery, the second of its kind in two weeks, was perpetrated at the Ricky Centre on Chong Yip Street in Kwun Tong around 2.30pm, after the woman met a man posing as a buyer, the South China Post reports.

She had recently sold the man digital currency in three transactions, each involving HK$600,000 to HK$700,000, said police.

“Investigations showed she was paid HK$3.5 million in cash after using her iPhone to complete an online transaction and sell him USDT tokens,” a police source said, referring to Tether, a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar.

“Soon after she was handed the money, three men carrying either a knife or a rod rushed out from a room and snatched the money and the iPhone from her at knifepoint.”

He said the gang fled after locking the woman in the office. The source said the gang could have carried out the earlier deals to win her trust, setting her up for the robbery.