Hong Kong, Feb 22 (IANS) About 100 Hong Kong residents have fallen victim to mask scams orchestrated by a suspected organised gang on Facebook, according to an official who has received hundreds more complaints about similar incident amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Scammers advertised boxes of 100 surgical masks for sale at up to HK$400 each ($51) on the social media platform but they did not deliver the products after receiving the payment, the South China Morning Post reported citing council member Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, from the Democratic Party, as saying on Friday.
Yuen, who accompanied four victims reporting the deceptions at a police Station on Friday, said the victims had lost HK$60,000 ($7,700) in total.
“The administrators of these Facebook pages selling face masks have similar practices when scamming consumers. I believe a group is behind them,” he said.
“Some of the pages left the same contact numbers and used the same wording in their posts. The scammers are very cunning because they change their logos and names to avoid being spotted.”
Yuen added that several pages appeared legitimate with thousands of “likes”, while administrators kept up the facade by hiding or deleting negative comments.
The coronavirus outbreak triggered a shortage of masks in Hong Kong earlier this month, with desperate residents queuing for hours and looking overseas for supplies, the South China Morning Post said in the report.
Yuen further said that some victims complained about the Facebook pages, but there was no response from the social media giant.
According to the South China Morning Post, Facebook had removed some accounts and pages relating to mask scams and it has been working with law enforcement agencies on investigations.