A 28-year-old woman surnamed Liang (梁) on Monday reported to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) a case of suspected scamming from across the Taiwan Strait that bore a strange resemblance to a very successful pyramid scheme last year.
Liang said she first made contact with China-based Guangxi-Nanning Investment Group, which claimed it was planning to turn the city of Nanning into a “second Hong Kong.”
Liang said she traveled to China to see how the group operated.
The five-day visit consisted of two days of seminars introducing the group’s investment goals and methods, as well as how to bring in others, and three days of visiting locations such as Wuxiang Guan — a high-end gym — and Yunding Hotel, one of the city’s higher-end hotels, where “officials” from the group introduced the ongoing and future development of Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Province.
After days of what she called brainwashing and presentations on supposedly lucrative possibilities, as well as the promise that investments could be transferred whenever she wanted, Liang paid a NT$350,000 (US$11,900) entry fee shortly before returning to Taiwan.
However, upon returning home and finding that the investment methods employed by the group were problematic, she opted to back out, but her requests were ignored by the group, prompting her to bring the issue to the bureau, Liang said.
Bureau officials said the suspected scam group typically used free room and board as a bait to lure victims to Nanning and then promising that an “investment of NT$350,000 would yield a return of as much as NT$30 million.”
The catch was that victims not only had to join the group, they also had to persuade others to join before they could see a profit, the bureau said.
The bureau said that it had cracked a similar pyramid scheme in April last year with the help of Taoyuan police.
The scam group also called itself the Guangxi-Nanning Investment Group. About 20 suspects were arrested throughout Taiwan in the case, the bureau said.
It is evident some scammers are still using the same methods as the “165” anti-scamming hotline continued to receive calls on similar cases, the bureau said.
It urged the public to be careful and not to fall for such methods.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer