Be wary of where you scan QR codes in Nanjing, and the rest of China for that matter! Multiple cases of fake QR code theft citywide have given rise to a new and very modern problem.
QR code scams in Nanjing is not a recent phenonemon; as early as 2016, when the use of QR code payments became popular, reports of scams began to rise. The problem has yet to go away.
The Nanjinger reports witnessing personal QR codes stuck over the official codes needed to open Hellobike shared bikes in Xianlin, Qixia District. After scanning the fake code, one’s preferred online payment platform is directed to an unknown page where a payment of ¥0.10 payment is requested.
This is someone’s personal account and it has nothing to do with the use of the bike.
Reporters soon realised that every bike in the vicinity had the stickers stuck on to them, and that they had been attached to all bikes in the area in broad daylight.
“It’s not only bikes”, local resident, Zhou Ran, told The Nanjinger. “I heard on the news that people have been caught sticking their personal QR codes to those of venders at market places downtown”.
A news report from December, 2018, revealed that around the Xinjiekou area, over 500 bikes were reported to have fake QR codes stuck to them, and from Shanghai Lu as far as Guangzhou Lu, all bikes had been tampered with in such a way.
“I used to be in the military before I worked as a prison guard, so I have seen first hand these kinds of people”, said Zhou. “There is only a small percent [of people] that are rich, but there is a very big proportion that are desperate to feed their families.”
QR code scams will inevitably continue to become ever more sophisticated and it is advised that anyone using online payment be vigilant as to where, when and how transactions are made.