Woman Pays £185,000 For Face Masks To Sell Amid Coronavirus But Receives Empty Box
The 27-year-old - referred to only by her surname Gao - has run a shop on social media platform WeChat for around five years, mainly selling beauty products. Seeing the demand for face masks, she shared an appeal looking for suppliers and a supposed retailer got back to her, claiming to have lots of masks at a cheap price.
Ms Gao, who lives in Xinmi city in the province of Henan, duly sent the funds online and awaited her delivery, which arrived on 9 February. This delivery turned out to be nothing more than an empty box, and realising she had been well and truly stitched up, Ms Gao contacted the authorities, which 'attached great importance to it and immediately organised criminal investigation'.
This investigation led officers to conclude that the phoney supplier was being operated by five people working out of the provinces of Xinjiang and Fujian.
Police subsequently made a 1,800 kilometre (1,118 mile) journey from Xinmi to Yunxiao County in Fujian to track down the culprits and after three days they were eventually able to detain four of the suspects.
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After receiving information from the fifth suspect's family, they were able to arrest him too and reclaim all of Ms Gao's money, with the case now under further investigation.
An abridged version of a police statement - which may not be perfectly translated - reads: "At present, the epidemic affects the hearts of the people throughout the country. In the critical period of fighting against the epidemic nationwide, criminals used the epidemic to implement fraud. The police attacked in a timely manner to detect a bad cyber fraud case that saved 1.66 million yuan for the victims.
"The task force conducted in-depth and detailed analysis and judgement based on the reported situation, and quickly locked the identity information of the criminal suspects in Fujian and Xinjiang. After grasping the identity information of the suspect, taking into account the current situation of epidemic prevention and control, only a rapid detection of this case can prevent more people from being deceived.
"At present, the criminal suspects Xu Mouxin, Wu Mouchuan, Wu Mouyong, Wu Mouwei, and Zhang Mouquan have been criminally detained by the Xinmi Public Security Bureau in accordance with the law, and the 1.66 million yuan of cash recovered is being returned."
Featured Image Credit: Henan Urban Channel