Shanghai residents are being warned about prepaid card scams during the ongoing COVID-19 resurgence with swindlers looking to take advantage of consumers keen to spend less or save money.

Police in Hongkou District yesterday revealed details about a case in which a gym worker allegedly defrauded his clients.

A woman resident surnamed Liu reported the case to police last month.

She said that a salesman at her gym, a man surnamed Wu, contacted her during the prior week, recommending a bargain prepaid card deal.

Liu had paid 12,000 yuan (US$1,815) in advance for a five-year plan at the end of last year, but Wu told her that she could get 11,500 yuan back and repurchase a 9,800-yuan “pandemic loyalty plan” for the same period.

Tempted, Liu applied for a refund on the gym’s official app and paid 9,800 yuan to Wu over WeChat.

However, Liu never saw the refund in her account, and there was also no confirmation of the new plan she had purchased but Wu talked her into buying the same plan for her parents as well and lend about 30,000 yuan to alleged new clients who otherwise couldn’t be entitled to the so-called special plan.

After transferring about 54,000 yuan to Wu, Liu lost contact with him and only then realized that she had been cheated.

Police soon located and nabbed Wu at his home.

Wu confessed that he totally made up the “pandemic plan” and scammed four of his clients, including Liu, for money to cover his debt.

Wu told police he owed people about 200,000 yuan and had no income since the pandemic resurgence in early March.

The victims lost more than 200,000 yuan to Wu, who is now placed under restrictive measures, police revealed.