Fraud in an epidemic, reflection, pride and pain — The story of an ordinary yet socially responsible college student during the epidemic

“Jin is a college student who loves history, current affairs and travel. He had participated in various volunteer activities as a participant before. In this epidemic, he, like many young people, initiated a donation to the public with a passion, trying to buy urgently needed items in the epidemic area. Materials to solve the urgent needs of the epidemic area. Public work and fund-raising were unexpectedly successful, but deceive businessmen did not let go of the opportunity to make a fortune even under this situation.” He said: "For me, participating in this activity as a college student is worth to be proud if we succeed, whereas we have indeed failed. However, I believe this lesson will make us capable of doing something better for the society and the country in the future. For society, this also represents the strength and attitude of our contemporary young people."
The beginning of everything is just a small inspiration

My idea of initiating fundraising started on January 24. At that time, I saw a medical aid team departed from Shanghai to Hubei province. Many other provinces also sent medical teams on New Year’s Eve. Military nits also sent several transport planes for transportation use. I was very touched. And on that day, I saw a lot of posting about the need for medical supplies from Hubei hospitals on Weibo, so I told a few friends, "Should we buy some supplies to donate to Hubei?” It all started with such a simple private fundraising idea. At that time, the number of patients was increasing sharply every day, and then, by chance, I first learned about the severe situation of Laifeng Hospital on Weibo. Laifeng is a poverty-stricken county at the national level. It is in Enshi Tujia Autonomous Prefecture, a very remote mountainous area. It just got out of poverty last year. We communicated with their medical staff and learned of their specific difficulties. Eventually, we decided to help Laifeng. What impressed me the most was that the Laifeng Hospital we contacted sent a few photos of frontline medical workers. One of the photos is a photo of a female medical worker with deep mask scars on her face after long-term work. When we saw the photo, we felt strikingly sad.

Later, I suggested to do some promotion, and then on the first day of the new year, we edited and posted it on QQ zone. There are a total of around seven core members. In the beginning, only a few of my friends paid attention to the post. Later, as the information we released was spread and reposted, several important members joined in and we became very good friends. A very important donation was from the newly joined Chongqing high school student’s sister. At the same time, we also communicated with our parents at this event and got a lot of support from them. In the beginning, we received a donation from a representative of the Chengdu Municipal People’s Congress, and then we also received donations from many friends in the government system. Generally speaking, many people supported our actions. Although it involved a little bit of illegal fund-raising legal issues, the police did not say a word about it after receiving the report. They still focused on the theft of materials.

Later, with the support and repost of more and more people, this small organization had developed to a large scale and received the trust of many strangers. We also got their donations to purchase supplies. I was very touched. Because at the beginning we really didn’t expect that this small action would allow so many people to join us and unite us to do something for our country.

In terms of tasks, most of our tasks were done together, without a clear division of labour. But when we encountered some very important things, the core members will decide who would do it together. For example, I was responsible for contacting the hospital and coordinating the fundraising. Other members were mainly responsible for the editing of the promotion article, introducing our event to new friends who have just joined the donation QQ group, and to some social networking app that can spread the information on a large scale, such as Weibo, QQ and Toutiao. Finally, we decided to mainly use QQ for publicity, because I myself use QQ more, I have joined and created a lot of groups, and more people can be contacted, so the appeal is relatively better than other platforms. At that time, there were a lot of people in the group. Many friends in the Harry Potter fans group gave a lot of support and donations, so I simply named the group “Wizard Muggle Disaster Relief Alliance”. Of course, there are also some non Harry Potter fans.

The cycle of hope and despair

Because a friend from another non-governmental charity group provided information, we found a very good German 3m factory. But then all the supplies of this manufacturer were booked by the state. On one hand, we felt anxious. On the other hand, we also felt our country's strong macro-control capabilities. It seems that masks all over the world have been ordered by the Chinese government.

Since the factory stopped supplying goods, the charity group I just mentioned transferred the donations the Charity Federation in Xiaogan City. At that time, we also considered whether we should donate the donations as they did, but the situation at that time was that the supplies were still in short supply, and the overseas material assistance and the speed of domestic production lines were not enough to meet the needs of the remote mountainous areas such as Laifeng that had only been lifted out of poverty. So after consideration, we decided to find a batch of materials to donate to Laifeng.

After this factory failed, we tried to contact some factories and sources of goods. However, at that time, the country had already begun to uniformly allocate materials, so we did not find any domestic manufacturers, and the epidemic data continued to skyrocket in the thousands. On January 27th, the day when the German factory notified that it could not accept the order, suddenly, someone who claimed to have a factory contacted me. Considering that the dynamics that we need to find manufacturers on QQ have spread far, it should be through that post actively find me. We were anxious all morning because we couldn't find a docking factory, so we didn't have too much doubt. This also led to us not carefully studying (the background of this contact). After one of the core members communicated with the other party on QQ and saw the relevant production license and mask stock photos, we transferred the money through WeChat.

On January 31st, the manufacturer told us that the materials had been sent out. After that, there were basically few updates. Until February 8, our member in charge contacted the manufacturer and the result was that the materials might have been stolen. There was also news that donated materials were stolen at that time, so we didn't think much and let the manufacturer handle it. But a few days later there was still no reply. At this time, our request for courier number, location sharing etc. was rejected by him, and then he stopped replying to our messages. We immediately realized that we were cheated. After discussion by several persons in charge, we reported to the police on February 10 and the case was handed over to the Pudong Criminal Investigation Detachment.

At that time, the only information that could be provided to the police was chat history, WeChat ID, QQ number, and most likely a temporary mobile phone number used by the other party for criminal purposes, as well as the payment time. Other than that there was no important evidence, but the police seem to have a general direction. After reporting the crime, we wanted to wait for further notice and judgment from the police, so we didn't talk to other people immediately. I have communicated with some friends in the group who have questions, and they all said that they were willing to wait for the results from the police. However, because of the increasing number of doubts, we thought it is necessary to make a public explanation. On February 25th, I explained to everyone on the QQ group and WeChat where most of the donors were in. My feeling this time was extremely sad that we could help the Laifeng Hospital. At the same time, I was sorry for betraying everyone's wish to help.

Recently, there have been many similar frauds. Shanghai sentenced a criminal two days ago. The amount involved was about 190,000 yuan and the sentence was six years. I think this is mainly because people are relatively lax in guarding during the epidemic. When everyone is full of enthusiasm and wants to do something for the country personally, I never thought that scammers could be so pervasive and intensified to use illegal means to make money when the country is going through a hard time.

For solving this matter, both the police and my friends are very supportive. Although it feels the main problem may still lie with us, we did not seriously consider the whole aspect. After seeing his business license, qualification certificate and mask photos, we credulously believed him. But for the whole thing, especially for the initiation and fund-raising part, we ourselves still hold a positive attitude. Of course, it is indeed not perfect.

The reply from the police was that they were fully investigating and will give us an answer, but at the same time they had many cases to be busy, and they would notify me if they have new information. I could feel that the Shanghai police were doing their best. They would undertake many types of economic crimes at the same time, so they also had a lot of difficult cases to deal with. Coupled with the restrictions and impact of this epidemic, it must be more difficult for them to handle cases and arrest people across provinces. At first, I was very anxious. I asked the police officers almost every day: "Are there any new news today?" Later, after learning about their case handling procedures and difficulties, I slowly became relieved.

Expectation and yearning for the future

We would follow up this matter later, including after the police solve the case. We would communicate with other members about what to do next. In the past few days, I had seen many donations from Chinese companies and governments, and they had used many true and beautiful verses to convey their wishes. After seeing the severity of the international epidemic, we also hoped that the money raised because of the epidemic can continue to be used to fight the epidemic. After this time, our own confidence in donating materials has been hit, so we are more inclined to consider direct monetary donations, such as through Xiaomi or Alibaba foundations, or direct remittance accounts opened by foreign embassies. As President Xi said, the destiny of mankind is a community, as long as the money is used in a reasonable place. At the same time, some of our friends and I also want to go on long-term (such charity) and strive for the government to file.

I hope that in the future, everyone when collecting donations can choose some official charity organization instead of doing it privately. Non-governmental charitable behaviour is still not as good as that of the state, and we must believe in the ability of the state. In addition, if we encountered this kind of online fund transaction in the future, we would also ask the other party to provide some important information, such as confirming it by phone. I hope that I can increase my social experience in the future, and be careful when facing large capital transactions.

Eventually, I learned that there are very few domestic charities that are truly qualified to raise donations publicly, and most of them are official organizations. It is really not very wise to do it when you know it is illegal. For example, our experience of failure this time. If money is used by official agencies for material docking and purchases, in this regard, professional personnel will at least be more experienced than us and have their own material channels. Things like this that cannot be carried out because of being deceived may not be able to deliver materials happened. In fact, as a semi-official organization, the Red Cross will always some problems due to our system. But after the scandal happened recently, the Red Cross was also ordered to work hard to rectify. We still have to choose to believe in the Red Cross, because although the official said there are many problems in it, this is not something we can change. But the government has its own supervision system and review system. We cannot deny other local Red Cross societies because of the Hubei Red Cross. Our system does have problems, but our supervision system is constantly improving.

Although I have learned about the relevant laws before launching the fundraising, I assumed it could be done as long as there’s no prohibition during the special period. In the case that the distribution of the country requires some time for preparation, I think we can help the country deal with a small part of the problem to a certain extent.

China is a centralized country, and our organizational and mobilization capabilities are great. It is true that certain systemic problems have been exposed because of the epidemic, and others are still very good. We still have to evaluate it with an objective attitude, constantly discovering problems and improving them.

This time can be said to be the most serious public crisis since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. SARS is far away from us. I was just over a year old at that time. But this time is different. Our generation personally experienced and witnessed this disaster and the power of the country to deal with it in the best youth years. In this epidemic, our information is constantly becoming transparent, and our supervision in the later period is constantly improving. Each disaster can better promote the optimization of the management system and fairness and openness. Just like the Wenchuan earthquake, we realized the weakness of our army's airborne strength, which later led to technological breakthroughs and the birth of the J-20.

China is a country that is constantly reflecting and making progress, and our Chinese nation is a nation that is constantly reflecting on and making progress.

Latest news

I received a message from the police that the criminals were caught by the police at noon yesterday, and they would return the money as soon as possible after the interrogation stage. At first, I must be very anxious, worried that the money will not be returned. Because such criminals are rampant now, if this criminal organization is mature and has quietly transferred the money abroad, it will be much more difficult to get the money back. To be honest, in this kind of extreme case handling situation, that is, being restricted by the epidemic while arresting people across provinces to solve the case was very powerful for the police. I was really anxious at the beginning, so I might ask every day, "Police officer, is there any new news today?" It was a period of surge when reporting the crime, and then they received a lot of cases, so I guessed that they took the arrest after the epidemic eased after they had almost grasped the basic information.

The case was solved at Mar. 27th. After receiving the message, I excitedly said to the main responsible buddies, "The fraudster is caught! The fraudster is caught! Ah, so excited!" Then everyone organized the language and notified all members of the group. Later, I might attend the fraudster's trial in person.

After getting further information, my mood was very complicated. I really did not expect that the fraudster was a teenager who was about to take Gaokao this year...

My idol is Lei Jun and he said at the Xiaomi Ten's press conference that he would like to wait for the end of the epidemic and sit under the cherry tree in Wuhan University to eat a bowl of hot dry noodles. So, this is also my own dream, I might also go to Wuhan when the epidemic is over.

Interviewed By



Sunchen Yuanyuan

Interview Date



College Student