CNA938 documentary on cryptocurrency scams wins SOPA award

CNA938 producer Ernest Puey, who narrated the piece, said he was inspired to produce the programme after noticing a “staggering” rate of increase in cryptocurrency scams. 

“In 2018, cryptocurrency scams made up just 4 per cent of all reported fake gambling platform and investment scams. In 2020, almost three in every 10 were. Add to that the rising adoption among Singaporeans and the eye-watering gains seen in crypto markets, as well as how easy it was to create your own scam coin – all this made for an important story that I felt needed to be told.”

The programme features a cryptocurrency scam victim sharing his story, analysts who give a behind-the-scenes look at enforcement and recovery investigations, and a developer who created an unexpected viral hit in Singapore’s cryptocurrency space, the Umbrage Coin.

Said Mr Puey: “The (research) process also uncovered just how simple it was to commit fraud through cryptocurrencies and the challenge of regulating the space against bad actors who seek to exploit the anonymity and decentralised nature of cryptos. We found no less than a dozen tutorial videos on YouTube that offered a step-by-step guide on how to create these coins, market them, and siphon funds from victims.”

A key challenge was taking a niche area of the complex cryptocurrency market and making it accessible to a general news audience, Mr Puey said. “As one of the analysts in the radio documentary shared, even sophisticated market participants are struggling to get up to speed with the innovations and technology in the decentralised finance and cryptocurrency space,” he said.


He added that getting recognition for his work from SOPA was a “total shock and absolute honour”. “It’s humbling to be standing among giants in the industry, many of whom have put far more than me on the line, in pursuit of the truth and to tell stories that change lives,” Mr Puey said.

“For CNA938, I’m proud that we broadcast award-winning content that pushes the envelope in radio journalism. This is affirmation that our station is at the cutting edge of reporting the pressing stories of the day to audiences both local and abroad.”

SOPA is a Hong Kong-based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to pursuing excellence in journalism. Its awards recognise outstanding works of journalism over the past year in the Asia-Pacific region.

The SOPA awards were announced at a ceremony in Hong Kong. This year’s winners include the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Reuters and Bloomberg.

The Wall Street Journal took home an award for Public Service Journalism for its coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in an entry titled “Of Unknown Origin” and Myanmar Now won the top regional Human Rights Reporting award for its coverage of people impacted by the Myanmar coup.

An international consortium of investigative journalists, The Washington Post and The Sunday Times of Sri Lanka was recognised with the Carlos Tejada Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for their work on the Pandora Papers.