Filipina loses over 7,000 HKD in face mask scam

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People line up to order face masks in Tai Po

A Filipina was duped into paying $7,900 to an online seller of face masks who promised – but failed – to ship the said valued items from overseas.

Face masks have been a much-sought after commodity in Hong Kong as people wore them as a means to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has infected at least 92 people in the special administrative region, including two Filipina domestic workers.

People would often line up for hours so that they could buy even just one box of face masks, whose prices have also more than tripled from the usual $50 since the first slew of COVID-19 cases have been reported in Hong Kong.

The difficulty of buying them in the city have forced others to look for other sources elsewhere, as with the case of the Filipina victim, who tried to buy them overseas via an online seller.

A police spokeswoman told Hong Kong News on Feb. 28 that a 30-year-old Filipina sought the help of the Cheung Sha Wan police after she failed to contact a seller of face masks whom she found in a social media platform.

The spokeswoman said the seller gave her instructions on how to send her payment first; once her money has been received, she was told that the the face masks will be sent over.

“The victim followed the instructions. She deposited the payment to two overseas accounts on Feb.24 and on the 26th,” the police spokeswoman said.

The face masks never came, however and the online seller could not be contacted or reached anymore.

The case has been classified as a crime of “obtaining property by deception.”

Investigators from the Sham Shui Po district will continue to look into the case.