Suspects nabbed for peddling 'medicinal' cakes

Chen Huizhi
Two accused men who allegedly sold cakes containing Ritonavir, a drug claimed to be effective for treating coronavirus infection, have been apprehended by police.
Chen Huizhi
Suspects nabbed for peddling 'medicinal' cakes
Shanghai police

One of the suspects is held by police.

Two suspects have been caught for allegedly selling cakes which they claimed contained medicine to treat COVID-19 disease, Shanghai police said on Wednesday.

Police in Yangpu District started their investigation in late February after noticing that someone was selling cakes on the Internet which were claimed to contain Ritonavir, a drug said to be effective for patients infected with coronavirus.

Ritonavir is usually prescribed by doctors and is not meant to be used as a food ingredient, police said.

Local law enforcement found that a man surnamed Yu, who claimed to have access to Ritonavir through work connections, was behind the advertisement; although police say he has neither a background in the medical industry nor qualifications to produce or sell medicines.

Yu allegedly purchased normal cakes, food additives and labels on the Internet starting in mid-February, while another suspect, a man surnamed Zhong, helped him with packaging and transporting the products.

The two were later caught in Yangpu and Changning districts, and the cakes they produced contained no Ritonavir at all, police said.

Yu allegedly told the police that he was inspired to organize the fraud after contacting a man on the Internet who said he wanted to buy Ritonavir. Yu said he had access to the drug and took 170,000 yuan (US$14,000) from the man, only to send him cakes which he claimed contained the medicine, police say.

Yu and Zhong used bitter additives in the cakes to make them taste “more like medicine,” according to police.

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