It took more than a year for the 83-year-old father of migrant worker Yu to save up nearly 18,000 yuan (HK$22,400) of hard-earned wages, which the family planned to use to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
It took less than a minute, however, for all their plans to go awry.
As the son was riding his moped to the bank, a gust of wind blew the cash out of his pocket, sending the money raining down onto Shanghai’s Bei Di Lu. On his knees in the middle of an intersection, he watched helplessly as two-thirds of his salary was looted by passersby.
According to news website Eastday.com, several men “dressed in uniforms with blue stripes” swooped in to pick the cash off the ground. They made off with 11,000 yuan of Yu’s 17,500 yuan in savings.
A few compassionate onlookers returned some of the money to the distraught Yu, said the report, which gave only Yu's last name. In the end he had only managed to salvage about 6,000 yuan.
The story went viral on social media as angry netizens left comments drawing parallels with other examples of degrading morals in Chinese society.
"I'm speechless...do people in our country no longer have a conscience?" wrote one netizen on Sina Weibo.
"People in urban metropoles like Shanghai have no morals. All they care about is money," another said.
Another said: "The government never treats migrant workers with respect. This is what happens in cities like Shanghai."
The story, first shared by weibo user Xuankejiong, has been forwarded 112,000 times and drawn more than 30,000 comments.