Chinese internet firm Sohu’s employees duped by email scam that promised ‘allowances’ to those who provide their banking data
- Two dozen employees at Sohu last week lost about US$6,000 after they fell victim to an email scam that used a hacked account in the company
- While online scams are not uncommon in China, cybersecurity breaches in major hi-tech firms have become rare
Sohu founder, chairman and chief executive Charles Zhang Chaoyang said in a post on Weibo that the incident “isn’t as severe as people assume”. He indicated that measures taken by the company’s technology department kept the total financial loss to below 50,000 yuan.
In addition, he said the incident did not affect the email services of all Sohu users.
The email scam at Sohu on Wednesday was trending on top of the search list of Weibo, which is affiliated with Sohu’s competitor Sina.com.
One Weibo user posted a comment that it was a shame for Sohu, once known as one of China’s leading internet portals, to become prey for scams and phishing activities. Other Weibo users said the reported financial loss reflected how destitute Sohu employees have become.
The firm’s announcement came after the US Securities and Exchange Commission added 12 more Chinese companies, including Sohu, to a list of stocks that face a potential delisting for failing to comply with US auditing oversight law. In China’s highly competitive internet market, Sohu has lost relevance over the years and has seen its market value shrink to US$525 million.
Chinese police last year cracked more than 441,000 cases related to telecommunications and cyber fraud, arrested more than 690,000 people and returned 12 billion yuan of defrauded money, according to state-run Legal Daily.