Fifteen people have been taken into custody in Taiwan following allegations that they scammed people out of millions of dollars through crypto fraud.
According to local news in Taiwan, the group was arrested in the city of New Taipei on separate occasions. The first round of arrests took place on January 9th, while the next round occurred on January 17th.
The members of the group have been charged with fraud, and the allegations will now be handled by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.
It is understood that those accused allegedly stole over $250 million New Taiwan dollars – equivalent to around $8.1 million US dollars, or around £6.1 million British pounds.
The scheme is believed to have affected more than 30 people.
The Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Bureau gave more details about the alleged crimes on Saturday.
The scheme focused on a cryptocurrency called IBCoin, which is illegal at the moment in Taiwan. Police there believe that the cryptocurrency does not in fact have any value.
Police said that they first learned about the possibility of a fraud occurring back in September of last year, when a man came forward to state that he had purchased $600,000 New Taiwan dollars’ worth of the IBCoin cryptocurrency in what he believed was a trick.
As is common in many modern cryptocurrency scams, the group of those arrested allegedly relied heavily on false marketing to promote the purchase of the coins.
The group supposedly shared images of the high-end, high-cost lives which they claimed to be living – using social networking site Facebook as their medium. However, the images were allegedly just part of the scam.
It is believed that a ringleader of the group – named as Lin – had actually purchased the banned tokens via mainland China. He paid $1.5 New Taiwan dollars for each one, but he would encourage the group to later sell them on for between $50 New Taiwan dollars and $100 New Taiwan dollars.
Police say that none of the alleged victims have received any profits.
Taiwan is a country located off the coast of China. China claims sovereignty over it, but its exact status is disputed.
As has been the case in many tech-focused economies both in Asia and elsewhere, it has had its fair share of cryptocurrency fraud problems in recent years.
Just last month, for example, a man was arrested in the country on suspicion of stealing a large amount of electricity in order to boost his crypto mining operation.
It is believed that the man was able to redirect electricity wires using the help of hired electricians.
“The group recruited electricians who managed to break into the sealed meters in order to add in private lines to use electricity for free before that usage reaches the meters”, said Wang Zhicheng, who was on the investigation team.
The scheme was brought to a halt once the country’s government-run energy company, Taiwan Power Company, uncovered the fraud. Until then, it was believed that the man’s power thefts affected around 17 Taiwanese shops.