Chinese fraudsters posed as a famous chili sauce brand to get free keys out of Tencent — and it worked

Alternate title: Tencent and the Great Chili Sauce Fraud Caper


What you’re about to read is an account of how three guys in China defrauded Tencent under the guise of a famous chili sauce brand. Because this is just how things work in this timeline.

The story starts with an esports advertising deal struck between Tencent and Lao Gan Ma for an April 2019 esports event for QQ Speed, a mobile racing game that’s popular in China. Tencent went in on this collaboration, not only emblazoning the sauce brand’s label all over the event but even going so far as to create thousands of “QQ Speed X LGM” co-branded chili sauce cans.

Last week, Tencent brought LGM to court over $2.5 million in unpaid advertising fees, which the company vehemently denied, stating that the sauce brand never signed any such contract. In spite of this, the Shenzhen Nanshan Court froze LGM’s assets to the demanded $2.5M amount. Then, a day later, Guizhou province authorities announced the capture of three suspects who allegedly faked LGM’s company seal and signed the agreement.

The motive: to get in-game keys from Tencent and resell them.

To Tencent’s credit, the company posted a video on Chinese video sharing site Bilibili titled “I’m the silly penguin who eats the fake chili sauce.” The whole affair is also being used by several technology influencers and executives as a case study in learning marketing lessons. For our part, we’re going to put a cherry on this weird sundae with a video from WWE wrestler John Cena professing his love for Lao Gan Ma in what sounds like pretty good Mandarin.

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