THE Philippines has begun an investigation into Sea Ltd. online mall Shopee after fans of K-pop girl group BlackPink complained it mishandled promotions around a meet-and-greet event.

The trade and industry ministry is considering sanctions against Shopee or ordering a refund for affected customers, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

“We need to protect consumers who participated. We need to know who’s at fault,” Mr. Lopez said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

BlackPink fans, who describe themselves as “Blinks,” took to social media to express frustration over an online contest that awarded top spenders time with the highest-charting K-pop girl group, complete with autographs. They accused Shopee of changing contest conditions such as cut-off dates, and arbitrarily withdrawing tickets. The hash tag #ShopeeScam was one of Twitter’s top trending topics on Thursday night.

On Friday, Shopee Philippines posted an apology on Twitter, saying that the event “fell short of the high standards” it was expected of. The company, which is backed by Chinese social media titan Tencent Holdings Ltd., said they were reaching out to all affected and taking steps to ensure a slip-up doesn’t happen again. — Bloomberg