Recently, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry uncovered and confiscated 223,000 units of 3 ply face masks from an online seller that was alleged to be selling them at marked-up prices. With masks being in high demand during the COVID-19 outbreak, the police have also received 393 cases of fraud involving the sale of face masks.
The losses from these reported cases are said to be RM1.1 million. The Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mazlan Mansor assured that the cases will be taken seriously and 26 people were arrested so far.
A few weeks ago, a woman in Melaka was ripped off of RM54,000 when she ordered 3,364 boxes of face masks from an online seller. The sale was communicated via WhatsApp and she paid for the face masks in two transactions one day apart. When the shipment of face masks did not arrive as promised, she felt cheated and had lodged a police report.
In Penang alone, there are 31 reported online face mask scams since last month which involved a total loss of RM130,000. According to the Penang police chief Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan, they have identified several individuals behind the cases which are either syndicates or individuals that use false identities on Facebook. It is also reported that some syndicates use mule accounts for the victims to transfer the money.
The police chief advises the public to the cautious when buying face masks online and suggests to buy them at shops or pharmacies if possible.