By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
Fourteen people have been arrested over a cryptocurrency investment scam that allegedly defrauded more than 100 people out of about NT$150 million (US$5.41 million) over the past year, police said on Friday.
The 14 suspects face charges of fraud, money laundering and breaches of the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例), the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said.
A businessman surnamed Chen (陳) allegedly led the scheme, said CIB investigator Kuo Yu-chih (郭有志), who is in charge of the case.
Chen promoted cryptocurrency investment on social media and led the Taipei-based Azure Crypto Co, which offered cryptocurrency transactions, as well as other investment services, Kuo said.
Chen’s investment schemes focused on the cryptocurrencies ethereum, tronix and tether, Kuo said, adding that Chen promised high investment earnings through the blockchain technology.
“Chen and his staff set up Web sites, and allegedly used photographs of pretty women to attract mainly male victims, many of whom were in retirement with substantial savings,” he said.
The victims were drawn to the Web sites by the attractive images and persuaded to invest through interactions they believed to be with the women, while Chen and his staff presented themselves as financial advisers specializing in cryptomining, Kuo said.
Investigators confiscated ledgers listing more than 100 people caught up in the scam, the bureau said.
The person who lost the most had invested NT$29 million over two months, it said.
Investigators quoted the man as saying that after an initial investment, Azure Crypto promised him earnings that prompted him to invest more.
After complaints, the bureau monitored the firm’s activities and its online transactions over several months before conducting raids late last month at the company’s office, and the residences of Chen and his staff.
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