A 27-year-old woman in China who spent over 1.66 million yuan (£184,270) to buy face masks to sell amid the Ccoronavirus outbreak reportedly became a victim of fraud after she was sent an empty box. Gao ran an online shop on social media platform We Chat where she posted an appeal for suppliers and retailers for purchasing face masks at a relatively cheaper price.
According to the reports, Gao, who resides in Xinmi City of Henan province made payment to a retailer online and received her delivery on February 19. She was shocked to find an empty box and immediately involved the police authorities. The police initiated a criminal investigation into the matter and nabbed the fraudulent suppliers out of Xinjiang and Fujian province. The suppliers, who duped the woman of her money, operated in a group of five.
The Xinmi City Police authorities told the media that they had to travel 1,800 km from Xinmi to Yunxiao county in Fujian to track down the culprits and make the arrests. It said that they were able to reclaim Gao’s funds only when they were able to locate the fifth suspect. Police authorities added that the phony retailers were under the detention and the case was further being investigated.
In a statement released by the Xinmi City Public Security Bureau, the police informed that officers from the Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau and the Anti-Fraud Center, Ma Huiqiang and Hao Rui, led the investigation in the front line. It further said that the most critical suspect named Zhang Mouquan who wasn't present in Fujian province arrived later and was arrested. All the money was successfully recovered from Zhang by the police.
The online retailers have reportedly been warning the consumers against phony third-party sellers on their platforms amid the Coronavirus outbreak. Recently, Amazon warned that consumers should not be trapped by the exorbitant masks prices and must ensure the authenticity of the sellers they purchase from.