1 more arrested in Vietnam firm e-commerce fraud

TN News

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Police in the northern province of Quang Ninh said Tuesday they had arrested the deputy director of the local office of an e-commerce company recently busted for alleged fraud and tax evasion.

Bui Tien Lan, 43, of the Uong Bi branch of Muaban24 Online Trade and Training Company (MB24), was the seventh to be taken into custody since the company came under the scanner earlier this month.

Lan faces charges of using the Internet for fraud, the police said.

During his time as deputy director at the branch, Lan sold more than 100 "shops" in the company's online market and transferred nearly VND1 billion (US$47,800) to the company's head office in Hanoi.

His boss, Nguyen Thi Lien, 60, who told the police that she had sold over 30 shops, saw her office and house being searched.

Police in Hanoi and many provinces have discovered that MB24, which was busted early this month, defrauded people by offering them online shops for VND5.2 million ($248.43) for them to buy and sell goods at cheap prices.

But while people paid real money to the company, they got virtual money in return. Although they were told initially that the virtual money could be exchanged into real money, when someone wanted to quit, they were told to transfer the virtual money to others instead.

Moreover, most of the members were found to be from remote areas and not computer-savvy or really interested in buying or selling goods online; they were lured by the commission of VND1.5 million ($70.9) that the company promised to pay them for signing up a new member.

Dan Tri news website last week quoted the Ministry of Public Security's hi-tech crime department C50 and Hanoi police as saying that the company had more than 50 branches in 32 provinces and cities.

In the past year it coaxed tens of thousands of people into buying some 120,000 of its shops for over VND600 billion ($28.48 million), but evaded taxes

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On August 1 and 2 three of the company's top bosses and three executives of a branch in the northern province of Phu Tho were arrested.

Police in Hanoi are hunting for chairman Nguyen Van Minh, who is on the lam.

At least in seven other provinces and cities police have started investigating the company's activities.

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