Taiwan's Council of Agriculture warns about Chinese online fruit scam

Top agricultural official says government has zero tolerance for fraudsters, vows stiff penalties

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(Facebook, Chen Chi-chung image)

(Facebook, Chen Chi-chung image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The nation's top agricultural official has warned about Chinese online scammers hawking agricultural products claimed to have been produced in Taiwan.

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) took to Facebook on Tuesday (Sept. 29) to raise the alarm about Chinese fraudsters found selling dried plums allegedly from Taichung on a one-page website.

The fake website uses photos of Chinese farmers and ill-gotten inspection reports by Taiwanese authorities to hawk the fruit, which it describes with terms only used in China. Save for its use of traditional Chinese characters, the content is reportedly identical to that of a website that sells plums from the northwest Chinese province of Shaanxi.

Established in February under a Chinese domain, the website is very likely to be operated by Chinese fraudsters, according to Chen. Similar techniques have been employed in the past to swindle money from customers in Taiwan, he said, adding that the government is ramping up its crackdown on such hoaxes with severe penalties.

Chen noted that plums on Taichung’s Lishan are not grown in large quantities and are mostly sold fresh rather than dried. He urged the public to be vigilant against scams and report any they encounter to the authorities.