Police in the southwestern city of Guiyang said Wednesday that three suspects aged between 36 and 40 had been detained in relation to the case.
Preliminary investigations showed the trio had faked a Lao Gan Ma company seal and pretended to be managers of the chilli firm to sign a cooperation agreement with Tencent.
“Their aim was to obtain online game package codes that Tencent gave away as part of its promotional activities, and they later illegally resold these online for financial gain,” said the police statement.
Captivated netizens called the incident an “embarrassment”, with a hashtag on the topic racking up 460 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo by Thursday.
Lao Gan Ma, a table-top staple in China whose name translates to “Old Godmother”, hails from Guiyang and has found a fan base both at home and abroad.