New Taipei City police on Sunday arrested 14 people suspected of involvement in a fraud ring that allegedly stole money through unauthorized payment channels on the online shopping site Shopee.
Police said they suspect the leader of the ring to be a 39-year-old man surnamed Su (蘇), who purloined a total of NT$1.5 million (US$49,381) from 36 buyers over the past seven months.
Su and others were apprehended during raids that were carried out over the past several days, Sinjhuang Precinct investigation brigade chief Chang Chun-ming (張俊明) said, adding that they will continue to investigate the case as prosecutors pursue fraud charges against the 14 suspects.
“Su headed up the group that put items up for sale on Shopee. They attracted buyers with lower-than-market prices for mobile phones, personal electronics and household appliances,” Chang said.
The group circumvented the authorized payment channels by calling potential buyers and offering even lower prices for purchases made outside the official Shopee platform, Chang said.
“The buyers wired the money to accounts set up by Su, who then dispatched group members to collect the money, but the buyers never received the purchased items,” he said.
A buyer tipped off the authorities earlier this year, but it took more than six months of monitoring the transactions and investigating before police could track down Su and the others, Chang said.
Shopee, a subsidiary of Singapore-based computer gaming company Garena, was launched in Taiwan in October 2015.
Garena, which in May changed its name to Sea Ltd, was founded in 2009 by Singaporean entrepreneur Forrest Li (李小冬) and has since branched out to e-commerce and other businesses. It is now one of Southeast Asia’s leading mobile shopping and payment services.
Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings had been a major shareholder in the firm since 2013, raising concerns that personal information and financial records from transactions would be passed to the Chinese government, breaching personal privacy and undermining Taiwan’s national security.
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