Tencent accused for swindlers on WeChat

As more people are using WeChat, the most popular chatting app in China, so too are swindlers – under the cover of online micro businesses.

These illegal merchants are similar to a pyramid scheme, where sellers make promises to return absurdly great benefits with any purchase. Once the prey falls into trap, the sellers disappear with the lured money.

For example, one micro business called Weifuyun Mall claimed that it would return 105% of the money paid back to consumers 48 hours after a purchase.

A victim told Chinese media Nanfang Daily that the platform Weifuyun Mall went online on June 1st and was closed on June 25th, leaving thousands of consumers with neither the products they bought, nor the returned money they were promised. Another victim who spent over RMB 100,000 buying things like rice, clothes and wine complained that 90% of the items were not even dispatched until the platform shut down.

These victims sued Tencent, the company who runs WeChat, for being cheated by swindlers who share a common characteristic with the victims themselves – WeChat users.

Tencent holds that WeChat only serves as a medium that connects people and is not responsible for users’ own choice of who they connect to. Nevertheless, Tencent states that it has been constantly improving its backstage risk control capacities, and has frozen over 100,000 accounts related to illegal actions since December of 2015.

While WeChat will continue to do its part in assisting the police in solving cases that have already happened, and encourage victims to report any illegal deeds on WeChat through its reporting channel, Tencent also earnestly warns users not to dream of pie in the sky: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

The Q2 2016 report from Tencent shows that WeChat now boasts 806 million monthly active users, a YoY growth of 34%.

With such large numbers, it will be a test for Tencent on how to maintain a credible system to hold online micro-businesses accountable.

(Top photo from Pixabay.com)

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