Man Steals Money Sneakily Scanning People's QR Codes in Shanghai

By Bridget O'Donnell, April 9, 2019

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Police in Shanghai's Huangpu district have arrested a man for allegedly stealing money from unsuspecting victims by secretly scanning their QR codes.

The cops were first tipped off in late February, when a woman reported that RMB980 had been mysteriously withdrawn from her WeChat account and paid to a supermarket she never visited. 

Police later uncovered surveillance video of the woman pulling up her WeChat QR payment code to buy snacks from a shop on Nanjing Dong Lu, a busy area for pedestrians. In the footage, a man could be seen right behind her sneakily scanning her phone with his own. The man then fled the scene.

Man Steals Money Sneakily Scanning People's QR Codes in Shanghai
The woman had no idea someone behind her was secretly scanning her WeChat QR payment code. Image via Shine

QR code thief
He then fled the scene. Image via Shine

The man, surnamed Liu, was eventually tracked down and reportedly confessed to his crimes. Shine reports that Liu is accused of applying for a POS machine acting as a representative of the supermarket. The tech-savvy thief then allegedly installed software on his phone that allowed him to scan people's personal QR codes to steal money. He would then transfer the money to himself.

Police say Liu stole a collective RMB2,940 before he was busted in mid-March. An investigation revealed that he had been stealing virtual cash from victims around several food shops in the area when they weren't paying attention. He was apparently able to take money from both Alipay and WeChat.

QR code thief
An alleged record of Liu's fradualent virtual payment transcations. Image via Huangpu Police/WeChat

Following the incident, police reminded people to first check whether their surrounding environment is safe when performing scanned payment transactions. They also warned people to not to pull up QR payment codes too early so as to avoid losing money to hidden scammers.

[Top image via Pexels]

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