High price of lunch on the cheap

A man who took advantage of a food delivery app's discount for new users stole over 8,000 yuan (US$1,160) from the platform.

A 26-year-old man who took advantage of a special introductory offer on food delivery app Ele.me was found to have cheated the company out of more than 8,000 yuan (US$1,160). 

Zhu Liang was sentenced on Wednesday afternoon by a Shanghai court to three months in prison with a three-month reprieve, fined 2,000 yuan and told to return what he had stolen.

Ele.me gives new customers a discount of 15 to 30 yuan on their first order. Zhu used other apps to repeatedly pretend to be a new user, gaining a total discount of 8,666 yuan from 487 orders between January 2, 2017 and February 25, 2019.

Noticing that nearly 500 "new user" orders were made with the same delivery address, Ele.me reported the matter to Jing'an police in February.

Zhu was arrested at home on March 20. During questioning, he told officers that he was contacted by a person in 2016 when he was running a restaurant. The person invited him into a QQ group and asked him to join them in making money through shuadan, fake orders. Zhu said he rejected the invitation.

However, Zhu's business failed at the end of 2016. Unemployed with no income, he reconsidered the offer. In the QQ group, he found someone who knew how to enjoy Ele.me's discount all the time and paid about 30 yuan to learn the trick.

He then began using two apps "Aiweizhuang" and "Fanqie" to make orders. The former clears the app's data and the latter provides new cellphone numbers and verification codes.

The court found he used the method to make orders for others, earning a small amount from each order, a finding Zhu repudiated on his release after the trial.

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