Four top managers of online marketplace muaban24.vn have been arrested for alleged online trading scams and tax evasion.
Hanoi police Thursday issued arrest warrants for the company’s chairman, Ngo Van Huy, and three vice chairmen-cum-deputy general directors, Nguyen Tuan Minh, Nguyen Manh Ha, and Le Van Cuong.
They had been investigated for allegedly using computers, telecommunications networks, and the Internet or digital devices to illegally appropriate others’ property.
Earlier, on Wednesday evening, policemen from the Hanoi Police Department and the General Police Department for High-Tech Crime Prevention (C50) under the Ministry of Public Security simultaneously searched the residences of the four people, seizing many documents to serve the investigation.
A leader of C50 told newswire VnExpress that the General Police Department of Crime Prevention and his unit have directed local police nationwide to quickly clarify the fraudulence of MB24’s operation.
"It is estimated that after just a year of operation, MB24 was present in dozens of provinces and cities. Its members had to pay a total amount of some VND700 billion," he said.
Previously, three managers of MB24 online trading training company, a part of the online marketplace muaban24.vn, were arrested on similar charges.
The arrest warrant for the three top managers of MB24’s branch in northern Phu Tho Province’s Viet Tri City was issued on Thursday.
The three people are the branch director, 27-year-old Truong Dinh Tuan, and the two vice directors, 36-year-old Dang Trung Dung and 47-year-old Nguyen Ngoc Lan.
After examining the workplaces of the suspects, the police have also seized many documents and computer content relating to the crimes committed by the three Phu Tho branch managers.
The two-square-meter IT training room at MB24 branch in Viet Tri City. Photo courtesy of Vnexpress.net
MB24 runs an online business via muaban24.vn in accordance with a license issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications in June. On this website, MB24 opened many pavilions for selling numerous products in the form of a multi-level business.
However, the site has never conducted any goods purchases, instead focusing on expanding its customer networks.
Sample products available for trading via the website are on display at the Viet Tri City branch. Photo courtesy of Vnexpress.net
The primary purpose of most people involved with the site is getting commissions by referring other people to buy the virtual pavilions. Authorities have identified the business on this website as not eligible for e-commerce business, while showing signs of tax evasion.
Colonel Nguyen Van Vien, PX15 chief of Phu Tho Police Department, said as of July 27, the provincial branch had nearly 15,000 virtual booths worth VND77 billion. In particular, there were 5,800 virtual shops with about VND29 billion in Viet Tri City.
Phu Tho police suspect the state has lost VND3 billion due to tax evasion. Tuan told the police that he had been rewarded VND1.4 billion by the company, while Dung had received some VND320 million for reward.
Many members of Muaban24 said they had to pay VND5.2 million to purchase a virtual booth. With the introduction of new participants, they are entitled to VND1.5 million as commission. And so, with the multi-level model, senior members were promised hundreds of millions of dong in monthly income.
When a MB24 member reaches the VIP level, the income per month can be up to VND100 million, the dream of many people.
This is also the reason why the promises given by top managers become more attractive to newcomers. Many people, who do not know anything about e- commerce, or even how to use a computer, had also borrowed money or mortgaged property to buy one, or even dozens, of MB24 virtual booths.
Farmers in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak have been at risk of losing all of their money since they cannot trade after purchasing virtual booths there.
By coordinating with the central police department for high-tech crime prevention to verify the criminal acts of this company, Phu Tho police discovered that MB24 has branches in 34 provinces and cities nationwide. The number of customers has surged to tens of thousands, most of whom are victims of MB24.