Cashier allegedly steals US$3.2m from her company to reward live streamer

A construction company cashier was arrested on suspicion of embezzling more than 20 million yuan from her company to reward a popular live streamer.

A woman who allegedly embezzled more than 20 million yuan (US$3.2 million) from her company to reward a popular live streamer has been arrested, according to Putuo District prosecutors.

Live streaming, or zhibo, has grown into a booming business in China, offering a shortcut to stardom and wealth. Live streamers, or zhubo, broadcast their lives as they sing, dance and chat with viewers. 

If viewers wish, they can buy virtual gifts using real money to send to their favorite live streamers, who then receive a percentage of the cash.

The 26-year-old suspect, surnamed Lin, became obsessed with a female live streamer early last year. Though she had squandered all of her savings on her idol, she said she felt it was far from enough and wanted to show greater support, according to prosecutors.

As a cashier at a construction company, she earned just 4,500 yuan per month, so she decided to siphon off the company's money, prosecutors said.

An initial investigation by Putuo police found that between May and December of 2017 she transferred more than 19 million yuan of public funds to her personal account. She also stole 1.34 million yuan in cash from the company safe.

Lin said she used 6.7 million yuan to invest in the stock market. The rest was used to reward her idol, who has since returned 3 million yuan.

Police said a further 9 million yuan is still outstanding.

The investigation continues.

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