Monday, July 28, 2008

Taiwan computer engineer loses NT$13.86 mil. in internet fraud

A Taiwan computer engineer was swindled out of NT$13.86 million (US$440,000) when he was looking for a date on the Internet, Taiwan radio said.

The man, only identified by his family name, Huang, was looking for a one-night stand when he came across a girl, Yuan Yuan, who agreed to meet Huang, 38, for a certain charge, the Broadcasting Corp of China reported.

Looking for paid sex on the Internet is common in Taiwan, though illegal. The practice, called either yuan jiao, which means compensated dating, or enjo kosai, which means an exchange of sex for cash or gifts, originated in Japan but is now popular among adolescents in Taiwan.

After Huang had transferred the money to Yuan Yuan's bank account, he received a phone call from a man claiming that Huang had used the wrong procedure to wire the money and caused the bank's computer system to break down. He demanded Huang transmit NT$2 million in damages or he would be killed, the radio report quoted police as saying.

After the transaction, the man called again, accusing Huang of another system collapse, demanding more damages and claiming the bank accounts of several lawmakers had been destroyed and that would delay upcoming elections.

So Huang took out a mortgage on his apartment and transferred more money, only to receive another call, saying he had to pay more damages because he caused another computer breakdown, leading to trouble on the stock markets in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Wall Street. Within one month, Huang had wired NT$13.86 million before he reported the fraud to police in Hsinchu City in western Taiwan.

Hsinchu police cracked a four-man fraud ring but have not found Yuan Yuan, who they said probably does not exist.

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