Chinese internet firm Sohu’s employees duped by email scam that promised ‘allowances’ to those who provide their banking data

In addition, he said the incident did not affect the email services of all Sohu users.

While online scams are not uncommon in China, cybersecurity breaches in major hi-tech firms have become rare. As such, Sohu’s reputation on Chinese social media has taken a hit.

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.

Sohu, one of the first Chinese tech firms to list on Nasdaq in 2000, last month said it is looking to exit the US exchange, signalling that the company is not confident about meeting strict auditing requirements.

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.

The recent incident at Sohu, meanwhile, showed that there remains plenty of work to do for the government to crack down on cyber scams. In March 2021, Beijing launched an anti-fraud mobile app to warn users of any calls, text messages or installed apps that are suspected of being associated with fraudulent activities.

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.

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