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Taiwan police arrest 14 over alleged Ethereum investment scam

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Police in Taiwan have arrested a ring of criminals who allegedly lured over 100 investors into their Ethereum investment scam. Authorities said the suspects relied on false information and photos of beautiful women on social media platforms and their website to lure their victims, which were described as older males.

The 14 are alleged to have made away with NT$150 million (US$5.41 million) from at least 100 investors, the Taipei Times reported. According to the paper, the one victim who lost the most money parted with NT$29 million ($1.05 million) over two months. Investigators said the man was lured by promises of making quick millions in the first month, prompting him to put in even more money in the scam.

A man with the surname Chen was identified as the alleged leader of Azure Crypto Co., a company that offered digital currency transactions. Kuo Yu-chih, the lead investigator in the case, said Chen led the promotion and marketing of the scam, mostly relying on social media.

Chen and his team of fraudsters focused their efforts on Ethereum, Tether, and the controversial TRON, investigators said. He promised his investors sky-high returns and withheld substantial facts such as how he would make the profits or his qualifications as an asset manager (or lack thereof). Chen allegedly presented himself as a financial advisor specializing in block reward mining.

The main target market for Chen’s scam was older males, according to the authorities.

“Chen and his staff set up websites, and allegedly used photographs of pretty women to attract mainly male victims, many of whom were in retirement with substantial savings,” Kuo said.

The 14 suspects face charges of money laundering, fraud, and breaching the Organized Crime Prevention Act, authorities said.

Taiwan has been friendly to digital currencies, recognizing even newer aspects of the industry such as security token offerings (STOs). However, it has been quick to crack down on any illicit activity in the industry. Earlier this year, authorities in the capital Taipei launched an investigation into Bitmain’s alleged talent poaching practices.

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