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Las Vegas Chinese restaurant owners targeted by WeChat scam alleging metal scrubber consumption

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    Chinatown restaurants in Las Vegas are on high alert after reportedly receiving scam messages threatening lawsuits and demanding payment via WeChat.

    How it works: The scammer orders food from the restaurant and pretends to have discovered a piece of metal scrubber in their meal after their child is injured eating it, according to KTNV.

    • Photos are sent via the messaging app WeChat, along with a demand that the restaurant pay their medical bills.
    • “With business hard to come by right now, we’re afraid,” Jun Ren, who owns a restaurant in Chinatown and was asked to fork over over $1,000, told the station. “We’re afraid they will spread the word and say my restaurant did this and that.”
    • Other local Chinese restaurant owners in a WeChat group also said they received the same photos, and one of them did pay money directly.
    • Ren believes she and the restaurant owners were targeted because they know little to no English.
    • At least six Chinese restaurants in the valley have been targeted over the past few months, according to Shannon Yang, who manages the Chinatown Vegas website and is also a member of the WeChat group.

    Getting the FBI involved: Yang believes the scammers are Chinese using different phone numbers because the exchanges have all been in Mandarin. 

    • She reached out to the FBI and wants other restaurant owners to stay alert.
    • Ren believes non-Chinese will also be targeted.
    • “I’m sending this warning to others, so they don’t fall for this. I hope no one else does like I nearly did,” she told KTNV.
    • The bureau told the station it can neither confirm nor deny an investigation into the scam has begun.

    Featured Image via KTNV

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