Watch out for fake QR codes when paying: police

Three suspects in two cases have been detained for allegedly stealing from shops by tampering with their QR codes for digital payment.

Three suspects in two cases have been detained for allegedly covering QR codes in shops with their own to steal money from the shops, police said on Wednesday.

Many shops in Shanghai have enabled customers to pay digitally by scanning a QR code. In some shops, after a customer has paid using a code, a voice announcement confirming payment can be heard, but not all merchants use this system, making them easy targets.

Since every user of the WeChat Wallet or Alipay has their own permanent QR code for charging money, the suspects took advantage of the function and created stickers with their QR codes to cover those of the shops.

In Qingpu District, a man surnamed Zhang, who owns a small restaurant in Liantang Town, reported to police earlier this month that he had become a victim of the scam.

Zhang said he realized that his QR code was covered with a sticker after he failed to receive money from a customer.

The two suspects were caught in Songjiang District a few days later.

A suspect, surnamed Ye, admitted that they targeted small shops which don’t use voice announcements after receiving a payment, police said.

The two stole over 5,000 yuan (US$800) from over 20 shops in Qingpu and Songjiang districts using this method since January, police said.

In some cases, the shops found out about the thefts days after the stickers were replaced, while others found out quickly but didn’t report it to police because their losses were small.

In Songjiang District, a suspect has been detained for stealing over 500 yuan from five shops using the same scam.

The suspect, a man surnamed Zhang, said he targeted shops with QR codes on the door because it was harder for shop owners to notice that they had been tampered with, Songjiang police said.

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