Man denies scamming people into buying facemasks online

2020-02-26 03:39     Comment:0

A 27-year-old man was arrested yesterday for an alleged online facemask sales scam in which so far 16 people have been confirmed as victims, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Ho Chan Nam said yesterday.

During a special press conference, Ho said that the suspect surnamed Lei, who claimed to be unemployed, denied it was scam.

According to Ho, 12 local residents – nine women and three men aged between 23 and 41 – reported the suspected scam to the police between last Tuesday and Monday, with a total loss of 18,000 patacas. The police said that they suspect a total of 20 people were cheated by Lei, and called on other victims to come forward as soon as possible.

After the press conference, four more local residents – three women and a man, aged 32 to 39 – told the police that they are also victims in the case, and their loss totalled 2,500 patacas, the PJ said in a follow-up statement.

Ho pointed out that Lei made use of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention period and professed to be selling high quality KF94/N95 facemasks through an online social platform under the username Yui Sok last month.

Ho said that Lei told potential buyers that he was selling a second batch of masks in an attempt to make customers feel confident that he had a lot of facemasks in stock. Lei also attempted to increase his profits by convincing customers that he only accepted orders for large quantities of masks. The victims did not receive the facemasks after paying Lei.

According to Ho, Lei used three bank accounts belonging to a local buying agent to collect the payments from his customers. Lei allegedly told the agent that money would be paid into the accounts by his customers. He sent the agent photos of the bank receipts he received from his customers, after which the agent transferred the money to Lei’s mainland bank account.

However, Ho said that when customers started to ask about collecting their facemasks, Lei told them that they had been seized by the Macau Customs Service so that he couldn’t deliver them at that time.

Ho said that Lei denied it was a scam, telling the police that he had been purchasing facemasks from the mainland for his customers. However, Lei failed to provide evidence of his purchases.

Lei was transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) yesterday for further questioning.

The police urged the public that if they suspect to have fallen victim to a facemask purchase scam to call the police’s fraud prevention hotline on 8800 7777.

The hooded suspect is escorted by Judiciary Police (PJ) officers from the PJ headquarters in Zape to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) yesterday. Photo: Iong Tat Choi

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