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Taiwan sees spike in online scams on social media, dating apps

Con artists exploiting romance apps for money-laundering purposes

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Young woman swiping on online dating app. (Getty Images)

Young woman swiping on online dating app. (Getty Images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The government has warned that online investment scams are running rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 2,000 such incidents reported in Taiwan in the first half of 2021, almost double the figure from the same period last year.

The frauds often took place on social media, dating apps, and messaging software. Perpetrators were found to have used fake photos and earned the trust of users of these platforms before swindling money from them, according to the Ministry of the Interior (MOI).

A total of 2,168 cases were recorded between January and June, representing a 94.61% increase year on year.

Some scammers tricked their victims into purchasing cryptocurrencies, while other types involved financial derivatives and gambling websites. The proceeds were then channeled to money-laundering activities, according to the authorities.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has boosted e-commerce sales and fostered fraud related to bank transactions. In June alone, 810 incidents were reported involving a combined amount of NT$80 million (US$2.85 million), per the National Police Agency.

The public is urging caution over claims of “low-risk investments with high returns,” especially from fishy online sources. The Cabinet is considering tightened regulations on cryptocurrencies and telecommunication activities as it ramps up its clampdown against digital fraud, said the MOI.

Call the anti-fraud hotline 165 to report cybercrimes.