A jobless woman in eastern Taiwan made more than NT$1 million in a few months by taking advantage of various incentive programs designed and offered by a local bank and a TV shopping channel to encourage their customers to spend and buy more.
Yang Hui-ju, 27, who holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Queensland in Australia, attracted much public attention after she revealed her story of making money over the past few months.
As Yang had not found a job since she completed her overseas studies last summer, she spent much time watching television and studying incentives offered by local banks to encourage consumers to spend more money with their credit cards.
Yang noticed that ETtoday TV's shopping channel allow its members to buy gift certificates with credit cards. A consumer may receive gift tickets worth NT$20,000 by paying NT$19,000 in advance. The consumer may get a fund of NT$20,000 if they do no use any of those certificates when they are due in a year, or exchange them for tickets of the same value, plus discount certificates worth NT$4,000.
Yang found that the incentive program offered an annual interest rate of 5.6 percent, much higher than interest rates for time deposits in local banks.
By studying credit card policies of China Trust Commercial Bank, Yang learned that the bank offers high bonus points to its credit card holders who pay NT$800 in advance to cover their monthly membership fees and a 0.2 percent rebate for their telephone bills.
Before applying for her credit card in October, Yang borrowed NT$6 million from relatives and friends and deposited the money in the bank in order to boost her credibility and raise the ceiling of her card. Yang then used the card to buy NT$6 million worth of ETtoday gift certificates.
By consuming NT$6 million, Yang was awarded 1.6 million bonus points by the bank. Yang then sold her gift certificates to relatives, who then put them on Yahoo and e-Bay auctions for her to buy back with the same credit card. At one time Yang accumulated 8 million bonus points by buying back the same tickets.
Yang later exchanged with the bank her bonus points for 20 EVA Airways first-class round-trip tickets to and from the United States. Yang then sold those tickets on Internet auctions for NT$45,000 each. As the bank allows transfers of bonus points to other card members, Yang also sold his bonus points to friends that she met on Internet for NT$300 for 1,000 points.
By taking advantage of those incentives offered by the two organizations, Yang said she would be able to make more than NT$1 million when she receives a refund check from ETtoday for the unused certificate. The rate of return on her investment will be as high as 21 percent, Yang said.
Yang, who has been praised by friends and relatives for her intelligence, has in fact made money to cover her studies in Australia in the past few years by taking part in various lot-drawing games and Internet competitions. While in Australia, Yang also took part in a Valentine shopping bid and won two tickets offered by Formosa Hotel and Resort tickets for her grandparents.
Having learned of Yang's way of making money, a bank official said they may file a fraud suit against Yang. An ETtoday spokesman said, however, his company has no intention of changing its policies of awarding those who buy goods and certificates from its shopping channels.
Several district prosecutors in Taitung County said Yang might have taken advantage of loopholes in the bank's policies, but added that what Yang did does not constitute fraud as defined by the law.