(Yicai Global) March 3 -- A Shanghai court has sentenced a man to six years and six months in prison for a scam involving non-existent face masks, a commodity in high demand as protection from the novel coronavirus. It was the first case of its kind.
The defendant, surnamed Yan, was also fined CNY50,000 (USD7,180) and had his illegal gains confiscation, online news media The Paper reported.
The victim, by the family name of Lu, sought to buy face masks for donation in a WeChat post in late January. Posing as a wealthy returnee, Yan contacted Lu claiming that he had a stock of 3M N95 masks in US and could deliver them to China by chartered flight. After gaining Lu's trust, the two agreed that Yan would sell 2,700 boxes (40 masks per box) for more than CNY1.66 million (USD237,900).
Lu paid CNY160,000 (USD22,917) to Yan, and bought an iPhone11 Pro Max worth CNY12,699 at Yan's request as a deposit between Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.
Yan falsely claimed that the masks had arrived at Beijing Daxing International Airport and asked Lu for the balance of over CNY1.4 million on Feb. 3. Lu asked Yan to present the flight number and promised to pay the balance after seeing the goods. Yan refused. At that point, Lu reported the case to the police.
The People's Court of Shanghai's Minhang district heard the case, which was streamed online.
Yan was willing to compensate the victim using his own and his parents' money, but the court determined that he could not as his bank account balance was too low and his family too poor.