Beijing and Shanghai police have warned about a new type of scam involving packages containing phone stands.
Netizens shared their experience of receiving unexpected packages containing a phone stand, along with promotional materials or scratch cards from online stores. All these items have one thing in common — a QR code printed on them. According to the police, this is a highly deceptive new form of fraud.
People may believe that these packages are gifts from the customer service departments of online platforms. Without much thought, they may scan the provided QR code, only to be led into a chat group created by the scammers, and fall into their trap.
Recently, a woman surnamed Sun received such a package, which included a phone stand, an invitation letter, and a scratch card with a QR code.
After scratching the card, she found that she had won a 10 yuan ($1.4) red envelope and seasonal fruits. Upon scanning the QR code, Sun was directed to a chat group where she received the red envelope and fruits.
The group manager then distributed fake orders within the group. Placing fake orders is a common trick to make an online shop's sales figures look appealing.
Sun initially attempted a 300 yuan task and was given a commission of 450 yuan. After completing a second and third fake order task, she had spent over 7,000 yuan but had not received any commissions. Realizing she had been scammed, Sun went to the police, who are currently investigating the case.
Officer Li Xin from the Jinshanwei police station in Shanghai said, "This is a form of fraud that tricks individuals into participating in part-time fake order schemes. Sometimes scammers go the extra mile by sending a bag of rice, a box of fruits, or other items, making you trust them completely. Once you let your guard down, the fraudsters will entice you to download apps and complete fake order tasks."
As victims continue to invest more, they discover they cannot withdraw capital and commission. According to a report by the Xinhua News Agency, criminals obtain potential victims' information, such as names and addresses, through the gray industry chain. Such information may leak at various stages of online shopping.
In another case, a resident in Fuyang, Anhui province, received a package containing a cup with a QR code on it. However, she had not bought any cups recently, and after checking with her family and friends, realised that they had not sent the item either.
Police said fraudsters using the mailing trick cast a wide net, and once the QR code is scanned, it will inevitably lead to financial traps.
These types of scams can be tricky, as scammers tailor their frauds precisely to the preferences of different target groups.
For example, mothers may be sent free baby products or small home appliances, students with limited income may be offered free in-game skins and equipment, and beauty enthusiasts will be given cosmetics.