Vietnam ecommerce company chairman wanted for fraud

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Hanoi police have launched a manhunt for the chairman of an ecommerce company suspected of fraud involving over VND700 billion (US$14.24 million), VnExpress reported Wednesday.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Nguyen Tuan Minh, 39, chairman of Muaban24 Online Trade and Training Company (MB24), more than 20 days after police in the capital city failed to locate him.

Minh is suspected of masterminding the fraud at MB24, which had set up over 50 branches in various provinces and cities when its headquarters in Hanoi were raided on August 1.

So far police in Hanoi as well as seven northern and central provinces have begun investigating the company's branches and have arrested 15 people, including the company's CEO Ngo Van Huy, VnExpress said.

It cited the police as saying MB24 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, shop owners who wanted to quit were told to transfer the virtual funds to others instead.

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Moreover, most of the members were found to be from remote areas, not computer-savvy or even particularly 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.

It was estimated that some 120,000 online shops had been set up at the company's online market, VnExpress quoted the Ministry of Public Security's hi-tech crime department as saying.

The case is being investigated further.

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