If you stayed up late on Jan. 19, chances are you could’ve gotten a free lunch out of Pinduoduo, the Chinese online group discount platform. A bug with the platform’s discount vouchers that value up to tens of millions of yuan flooded into the public.
This was no accident.
An online collective exploited a loophole on Pinduoduo and used it to “steal” a large sum of money. While the exact number is unknown, Pinduoduo said it should be less than the rumored 20 billion yuan (3 billion dollars).
The loophole was fixed early on the morning of Jan. 20.
Shanghai police has opened a case on cyber fraud, freezing related vouchers. Pinduoduo also established technical groups to control risks of online vouchers.
The widespread voucher was designed exclusively for a dating show, which means it was never supposed to be available to a broader audience. It was also ruled that one identified customer could only get one 100-yuan voucher that can be used on any item on the platform.
However, the collective used virtual accounts to transfer the value to phone bills and other virtual top-up services. To get away with their crimes, the group handed a QR code of the voucher in an attempt to get more innocent people involved.
At the same time, fake news on Pinduoduo’s potential lost 20 billion yuan were released to mislead public opinion.
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“Pinduoduo is determined to crack down on such online collectives, with no compromises and concessions. We will not blame general consumers who are involved in the case, but we do not support such abnormality,” Pinduoduo said in its official statement.
Featured photo credit to 视觉中国