How 3 fraudsters duped Tencent by hijacking the name of China’s beloved chilli sauce Lao Gan Ma

It’s not every day that a tech titan falls for a million-dollar scam. But Tencent is now taking the embarrassing episode in stride, making fun of itself on social media after being tricked by a group of fraudsters posing as the maker of China’s beloved chilli sauce, Lao Gan Ma.

“I’m the silly penguin who ate fake chilli sauce,” wrote Tencent, which uses the flightless bird as the company mascot, in a tongue-in-cheek Weibo post on Wednesday evening. It includes a video mocking the incident, along with the hashtag “Tencent offers 1,000 bottles of Lao Gan Ma for clues on the swindlers.”

The much-discussed saga began on Monday. A newly published verdict revealed that a Shenzhen court ruled in April that it would freeze over 16 million yuan (around S$3.2 million) worth of assets belonging to Lao Gan Ma.

Tencent told Chinese media outlets that it sued the condiment manufacturer for failing to pay outstanding advertising fees.

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