Scammed for face masks

Manhunt: Chong holding up a picture of the alleged conman at the press conference at Wisma MCA. Sitting next to him is Zhang Lin.

KUALA LUMPUR: The worsening Covid-19 outbreak has led to unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the situation, including the case of a local man who conned a Chinese national into giving him almost RM600,000 for face masks.

The 43-year-old victim, Zhang Lin, arrived in January for a holiday and befriended the man, who works in the events industry.

When news of Covid-19 broke, the man persuaded Zhang Lin to buy face masks from him.

Zhang Lin ordered 1.1 million face masks to be delivered to Jiangsu, China, thinking that she could give them to her family, friends and even resell them.

She transferred 975,100 yuan (RM594,567) to the man and passed him a further RM20,000 in cash.

“I even passed him my passport as he said he could help me extend my visa in Malaysia, ” she said at a press conference at Wisma MCA yesterday.The face masks did not arrive on the promised date of Feb 9, and when Zhang Lin questioned the man, he gave excuses and even threatened to kill her if she took the matter public.

She lodged a police report on March 3 and later approached

the Chinese Embassy and MCA Public Services and Complaints Department’s lawyer James Ee for help.Ee arranged for a meeting with the man on Wednesday night, but he did not show up.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said they would be liaising with the police on the matter.

“With this Covid-19 situation, everyone must remember not to panic, ” he said, adding that information and reports on social media should not fuel panic.

On a separate note, he said he received a donation of 10,000 face masks to be distributed to schools in Malaysia.

Chong, who is also People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) honorary commissioner, also said that the organisation had transferred RM135,000 to the Hubei Charity Foundation to help combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

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