Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Separating Fact from Fraud

Here in Hong Kong we are watching the news about the spread of the latest avian flu strain, H7N9 on the mainland.

We've pretty much stopped eating chicken and some people have already stocked up on surgical face masks.

The latest is that eight people have died so far, 28 infected in China.

However, in Hong Kong there is no trust in these numbers and people immediately believe they are under reported; they think the numbers are more accurate if they are multiplied by 10 or 100.

It's a scary thought, but very possible.

In any event, it's interesting to read the Jiangsu police bureau has posted on its Sino Weibo microblogging account a warning to the public that they should pay attention to possible avian-flu frauds.

"Please be aware of the following seven frauds related to the H7N9 virus infection. Report to police if you find anything suspicious," it said.

The seven scams are:

1. School staff demanding "hospital bills" from parents after claiming their children had been infected with the virus and quarantined;

2. Senior education officials asking schools to order and pay for "virus prevention manuals";

3. Health staff stealing belongings from people after ordering them to undergo physical check-ups for the flu;

4. Charity fundraisers asking for flue prevention donations;

5. Drug manufacturers selling fake medicines and charging deposits;

6. Government representatives selling fake anti-flu medicines to pharmacies;

7. Health product sales representatives offering incentives to individuals to persuade their organizations to buy flu prevention products.

For people outside of China, reading this would leave them flabbergasted that schemers would actually use avian flu to try to make a quick profit. Don't they have any morals? one would probably ask.

Having lived in Beijing I'm not surprised, but disappointed to hear that after what mainlanders have gone through in recent years, particularly food scares like milk powder, pork and chicken that they now have to worry about being tricked when they are concerned about their health.

One would think people would have the common sense to ignore most if not all these scams; but Chinese citizens don't have much critical thinking skills to be able to judge whether they are being duped or not.

We hope people aren't falling for them and are glad the police are warning them. However, there are surely many more scams out there and they need to be on alert!!!

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