Coronavirus: 5 people arrested for allegedly cheating customers over face masks sold on Carousell

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - The police have arrested four men and one woman, aged 17 to 26, for allegedly cheating customers over face masks sold on online marketplace Carousell amid the coronavirus outbreak here.

In a statement on Tuesday (Feb 18), the police said that since late January, they have received several reports from people who said they were cheated by sellers after they paid for face masks on Carousell.

The sellers would become evasive and uncontactable after the buyers made payments through bank transfers.

The police said they "take a serious view of those who take advantage of the current Covid-19 situation to perpetrate crimes", referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus which originated from China's Wuhan city.

"All offenders will be dealt with sternly in accordance with the law," they added.

Working with Carousell, the police identified five suspects:

  • A 24-year-old woman believed to be involved in more than 40 cases of e-commerce scams amounting to more than $2,500. She was arrested on Feb 3 and charged with cheating on Feb 5.
  • A 26-year-old man believed to be involved in more than two cases of e-commerce scams amounting to about $500. He was arrested on Feb 6. Investigations into his case are being carried out.
  • A 25-year-old man suspected to be involved in more than seven cases of e-commerce scams amounting to about $1,000. He was arrested on Feb 10 and investigations into his case are being done.
  • A 22-year-old man suspected to be involved in more than four cases of e-commerce scams amounting to at least $196. He was arrested on Tuesday and expected to be charged with cheating on Wednesday.
  • A 17-year-old boy believed to be involved in at least five cases of e-commerce scams amounting to more than $500. He was arrested on Tuesday and expected to be charged on Thursday with cheating.

Those found guilty of cheating can be jailed up to 10 years and fined.

The police added that they received more than 90 reports from people alleging that a company, MedicalLex, had failed to deliver the masks they had bought online. The police are looking into the matter.

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They advised the public to take the following precautions when shopping online during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Don't Panic: Be rational when considering purchases, and do not buy on impulse.
  • Don't Believe: Scammers may use a local bank account or provide a copy of an NRIC or driver's licence to make a person believe that they are genuine sellers.
  • Don't Give: Avoid making payments or deposits in advance. Use shopping platforms or arrangements that release payments to the seller only upon receipt of the item bought. Buy only from reputable websites or platforms.

Members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688 for more information on scams.

Anyone with information on such scams may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

All information will be kept strictly confidential.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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