Mon, Dec 02, 2019 - Page 2 News List

HPA official faces sanctions over a smartphone dispute

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A Health Promotion Administration (HPA) official has admitted to improper behavior and is to be sanctioned today after a student reported being threatened online after selling him a used smartphone, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said on Saturday night.

A student in Taipei Medical University’s dentistry department posted details of a transaction dispute on the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) online bulletin board.

The ministry said in a statement that when it asked the official, surnamed Chou (周), about the matter, he said that he had been the victim of a hacker, and that the transaction and subsequent conversation were not his.

However, the Civil Service Ethics Office’s investigation lead to Chou admitting improper behavior, the ministry said.

The student wrote on PTT that the phone was advertised online and the buyer spent about 10 minutes inspecting the device when the two met.

The buyer confirmed there were no problems and completed the sale, the student wrote.

However, the seller later received a message from the buyer on the Line messaging app claiming that a camera lens was cracked and seeking NT$1,500 to offset the original price, the student said.

The buyer wrote that he knew that the seller was a dental student at the university and claimed to work in the ministry’s Department of Mental and Oral Health, so “you will meet me during your PGY,” the student wrote, apparently referring to a post-graduate year training program.

The buyer wrote that if the phone could not be returned or the payment made, he would tell the seller’s professor, who would be likely to do the “division chief” a favor, the student wrote.

Screenshots of the conversation were attached to the post.

Other commenters wrote that digital traces might reveal the buyer’s identity and suggested that they might be a division chief at the HPA.

As Chou’s behavior has seriously affected the HPA’s public image, the agency is to act today, the ministry said.

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