Thai police have arrested two Thais, a man and a woman, for allegedly selling overpriced surgical masks via WeChat Pay website. Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang identified the suspects only as Mr Chai and Ms Nat.
He said one of the suspects was arrested with 5,000 surgical masks at the parking lot of a hotel in Bangkok.
Earlier police learned that foreigners were selling surgical masks at inflated prices via WeChat Pay account. In a sting operation, detectives ordered 5,000 masks priced at 15 baht each from the source.
Mr Chai was arrested while delivering the products in five boxes, Thai media reported.
Mr Chai told police he advertised mask supplies in Chinese through the WeChat pay application. Later police arrested Miss Nat who was responsible for financial transactions through WeChat Pay. She then transferred money to Bangladeshi man identified only as Zaw, who was their real mask supplier.
Pol Lt Gen Sompong said that the gang transferred nearly Bt2 million over the past seven days.
Lazada Sellers also overcharged like WeChat sellers
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce has instructed authorities to prosecute several vendors on Lazada, for price gouging face masks. The ministry has also warned dealers that overcharging for delivery fees is an offence.
Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, said that the first of the three Lazada vendors was DD Pharma. A drugstore in Nakhon Pathom province. The drugstore was found to be stocking 28 packs of face masks.
It was selling them for 1,100 baht per pack, or 22 baht per mask. The second Lazada vendor is 928 Shop in Bangkok. It was selling a pack of surgical masks for 1,099 baht, or 22 baht per mask.
The third vendor is Appliance & Safety (NK), a shop in Nakhon Pathom province. It was selling a pack of masks for 1,299 baht, or 26 baht per mask.
Vendors who sell face masks at a price higher than the fixed price are subject to five years in prison or a fine of 100,000 baht, or both. As for price gouging, violators are subject to seven years imprisonment. Or a fine of up to 140,000 baht, or both.
The Ministry of Commerce is also taking legal action against the CEO of Lazada Thailand for collusion. Saying the same penalties will be applied.
The ministry has warned dealers that charging unreasonable delivery fees is also an offence. Even if they are selling the masks at the control price of 2.5 baht per item.
Lazada Thailand issues a statement
Lazada Thailand later issued a statement, saying its services adhere to the government’s rules, regulations and policies to ensure a safe online community for all.
At Lazada Thailand we always supported the measures implemented by the Department of Internal Trade by supervising prices of different products, including face masks. It has closely followed the situation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and related regulations, and has provided a better understanding with vendors on the platform.
It has suspended the accounts of those selling face masks at inflated prices. People can contact Lazada immediately, if they see prohibited items listed on the platform.