Chinese College Student Loses ¥50,000 after Tmall Scam

By Ryan Gandolfo, October 22, 2019

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A student at Shanxi University was recently scammed out of over RMB50,000 after a purchase made on Alibaba’s Tmall e-commerce platform.

According to a video report by Pear Video, the student, named Xiao Zhang, purchased a bottle of floral water (花露水) in June and was randomly contacted earlier this month by a person pretending to be a Tmall customer service representative. The scam artist told Xiao Zhang that a recently promoted staff member added his name to an international membership list on Tmall, which requires him to pay a RMB500 monthly membership fee. Xiao Zhang asked to cancel the membership, to which the ‘Tmall rep’ replied that he must go through a third-party platform. 

Xiao Zhang then went on Alipay’s consumer credit app Jiebei and withdrew what money he could borrow. From there, the scam artist provided a fake bank account number and told Xiao Zhang to transfer over RMB3; however, the transaction failed. Next thing Xiao Zhang knew, RMB50,000 was missing from his account. (He didn’t specify in his interview whether he willingly made the transfer or the money was taken from his account.)

Xiao Zhang claimed that the other party told him to send all of his money and then they would be able to send it back. So, the naive college student proceeded to transfer the swindler another RMB5,000, according to a Pear Video interview with the fraud victim. Xiao Zhang said that he’s been unable to get in contact with the other person since the transactions were completed, and that he has already notified the authorities.

READ MORE: Safe Surfing: Your Ultimate Guide to Online Scams in China

The story was heavily trending on Weibo on Sunday, with over 180 million people following the Tmall scam hashtag #CollegeStudentBuysFloralWaterSwindledOutofRMB50,000 (#大学生网购花露水被诈骗5万).

It appears many netizens are sympathizing with the student, with one person posting, “That’s so much money, but you still have to be careful, hope [the money] gets returned soon.” Others sounded skeptical over the ease with which the student forked over all the money. “How does a college student have RMB50,000? I feel like this case isn’t complete, you wouldn’t easily give up RMB50,000 like that,” posted a Weibo user.

But perhaps most fascinating about the story is the amount of people sharing their own run-ins with scammers. “The same day I saw this story I received a call just like that,” wrote one Weibo user. Another netizen recounted one time he was contacted by someone trying to get him to sign-up on a platform to take out a loan. After calling out the person, saying “Why do I need to take out a loan?” the fraudster hung up.

Sadly, online fraud stories are a dime a dozen, and have become more frequent and sophisticated in recent years. And with over 800 million internet users in China, many of which likely aren’t the best at navigating the web, these traps occur all to often.

Interested to learn more about online scams in China and how to protect yourself? Click here for our guide to online scams in China.

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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