Crackdown on faking of food contamination

2024-06-19 10:20:41China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Authorities have cracked down on criminals who deliberately contaminate food at restaurants with objects and insects such as ants and cockroaches, and then blackmail the restaurants for compensation.

Police in Shiyan, Hubei province, recently arrested a suspect, surnamed Rong, who has allegedly blackmailed over 700 restaurants in more than 80 cities in 28 provincial-level regions since last year, defrauding businesses of more than 100,000 yuan ($14,000).

In late May, Rong dined at a restaurant at Shiyan Wudangshan Airport and claimed to have found ants in his food. He demanded compensation that was 10 times the cost of his meal.

According to police, Rong would purchase ants and sneak them into food at targeted restaurants, particularly high-priced establishments at airports or chain restaurants.

He exploited their fears of developing bad reputations to elicit payouts, police said.

Police said that within just two days of Rong's arrival in Hubei, he engaged in four acts of extortion in four cities.

Rong has confessed to his crimes and is being detained as the investigation continues, they said.

In a similar incident in Beijing, Haidian district authorities recently arrested a man surnamed Su, who allegedly tried to extort money from multiple restaurants by planting cockroaches in his food.

According to officials, Su dined alone at a grilled fish restaurant in April and claimed he had found a cockroach in his meal. He demanded 1,000 yuan in compensation from the restaurant. After negotiation, the restaurant paid Su 500 yuan and waived his bill.

Another restaurant also reported that Su demanded compensation after claiming he found a cockroach in his food there.

The restaurant manager reviewed surveillance footage and saw Su placing what appeared to be the insect on the table while looking over the menu. When the manager threatened to call the police on him, Su immediately paid his bill and left.

Police said that Su had used the same tactic to extort money from several other restaurants in Beijing within a short period.

Su was arrested and confessed, police said. He admitted that he had collected cockroaches at home, cooked them and then planted them in the restaurants' food before demanding compensation.

The Haidian market supervision authority has handled three other cases of malicious compensation claims and extortion since July last year, apprehending three individuals who added hair, insects and mealworms to food they ordered at restaurants.

Shiyan police said they are enhancing efforts to curb such activities.

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