The sudden closure of an international online shopping platform yesterday has left its product suppliers, customers and employees in Hong Kong with hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
Several business partners of the BeeCrazy website, who claimed they were the "biggest victims" of the unexpected shutdown, sought help from the police, alleging fraud.
Founded in 2010, Ensogo, the Australian-listed parent company of the group-buying business BeeCrazy, said in a statement that it had decided to shut down its operations in Southeast Asia and lay off staff in the region.
BeeCrazy provides discount coupons by partnering with restaurants, shops, beauty salons, appliance stores and travel agencies.
"Ensogo Australia will no longer provide financial support to its subsidiary Southeast Asian flash sales and marketplace business units," Ensogo said.
It also noted that the company had accepted the resignation of its chief executive, Kris Marszalek.
Ensogo said the decisions were made to "preserve the company's cash for new investment."
The website, which stopped receiving orders yesterday, has left hundreds of thousands of customers and sellers empty-handed.
The Consumer Council of Hong Kong said it had received 12 complaints and 163 inquiries about the closure of the online platform, which has received more than 3.5 million "Likes" for its Facebook page.
An outraged BeeCrazy's female partner store owner surnamed Yeung, who lost HK$20,000 from the abrupt shutdown, called upon other victims in a new Facebook group named "business owners victims gathering zone," with 177 members, to report the case to the police.
Accompanied by Democratic Party member Au Nok-hin, five of the partner store owners and staff went to Cheung Sha Wan Police Station yesterday afternoon.
Au said the Regional Crime Squad of Cheung Sha Wan will investigate whether it is a case of fraud. He estimated 100 sellers were affected, and assuming each lost HK$10,000, the shutdown could lead to losses of HK$1 million.
Democratic Party vice chairman Andrew Wan Siu-kin said the party received about 30 complaints, of which more than 10 are concerned sellers which claimed financial losses ranging from a few thousand dollars to HK$300,000.
Speaking outside the police station, Yeung, 25, who started selling purses and cosmetic products on BeeCrazy last December, said her May and June payments were still outstanding.
"We feel really strange because we knew that BeeCrazy rolled out a big promotion during the Dragon Boat Festival, with 20-percent-off coupons," she said.
"Our revenue was boosted by three to four times in the past two weeks.
"It seems to us that they wanted to make huge business from us one last time before they closed down."
Ms Chan, an online furniture store staff member, said her company lost more than HK$200,000 to BeeCrazy.
"The website told us in May that there was a revamp. They lured us into joining a free selling platform."