A common LINE scam in Taiwan

There’s a scam in Taiwan that goes something like this.

You receive a LINE message from a desperate friend asking to borrow money for a couple of weeks. Usually about $30,000 Taiwan dollars. It’s a lot of money, but an amount you might still have to hand – somewhere around a month’s salary. If you agree they’ll send you an account number to transfer the cash.

Whether or not you agree to lend the money, they’ll ask to verify your phone number. If you give them your number they’ll ask you to tell them the ‘four digit code’ you’ll be receiving in a text message.

What they’re actually doing is performing a password reset on your LINE account. LINE sends you a text message to verify it’s actually you perming the reset. You give the scammer the code, and they reset your password. They now have access to your account and start to message each of your friends asking to borrow money.

This is really a modernized version of an old Taiwanese scam that’s being going for years. In which a scammer calls an old person, pretends to be their nephew, or some long lost relative, in danger and in need of cash.

It always amazes me how scams like this work. I suppose that the message comes from a friend catches the victim off guard. Just how malicious emails from friends’ hacked email accounts with virus attachments work.

The widespread nature of these scams means the police often send text messages warning of such scams. Here’s one that I recently received:

警政署165專線提醒您:避免LINE帳號遭盜(冒)用,勿將4位數認證碼告知他人;接獲親友傳訊息借款,請當面或電話再次確認,以免受騙。

Simplified Chinese:

警政署165专线提醒您:避免LINE帐号遭盗(冒)用,勿将4位数认证码告知他人;接获亲友传讯息借款,请当面或电话再次确认,以免受骗。
Jǐng zhèng shǔ 165 zhuānxiàn tíxǐng nín: Bìmiǎn LINE zhànghào zāo dào (mào) yòng, wù jiāng 4 wèi shù rènzhèng mǎ gàozhī tārén; jiē huò qīnyǒu chuán xùnxí jièkuǎn, qǐng dāngmiàn huò diànhuà zàicì quèrèn, yǐmiǎn shòupiàn.

The message reads:


Police department 165 hotline reminds you: To avoid your LINE account being stolen (fraudulently) used, don’t give the 4 digit confirmation code to anyone else; if you receive a message from a close friend to borrow money, please confirm with them face to face or over the phone, to avoid being deceived.

I won’t dissect the message completely, but there’s a few words worth having a look at.

zāo means to encounter something, and it’s usually negative – such as in 遭遇 zāoyù or 遭到 zāodào. In this case it’s your Line account that it meeting with bad fortune – It’s being 盜用 stolen/hacked or 冒用 fraudulently used.

勿 means don’t, simple as that. Like 不要 condensed into one word. You’ll often see this written on the street – 請勿停車 Qǐng wù tíngchē “please don’t park here”.

Following is 將, which might be a little difficult to understand. Kind of like ‘take’. Here’s a more literal translation of the sentence where it’s used to emphasize the usage of 將:


4位數認證碼告知他人


don’t take the 4 digit number and tell it to other people

The usage of 將 is very similar to .

Also from the sentence above is 他人. This is short for 其他人 qítā rén, and just means other people. It’s common to abbreviate 其他 to simply 「他」.

In the message we’ve got 避免 bìmiǎn and also 以免 yǐmiǎn. Both mean “avoid” but slightly different. 以 means “in order to”, so at the end of the message after the advice has been given we’re saying – (follow this advice) in order to avoid being cheated.

If there’s anything specific in the text message you’re not sure of please post a comment a below. In the meantime, beware of suspicious messages from your LINE friends.