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A Chinese merchant loses US$4,500 after he mistakenly transferred the money to a man who later blocked him on social media after spending the cash. Photo: Handout

Struggling fruit seller in China loses US$4,500 after transferring sum to wrong person who then went on spending spree

  • A fruit seller in southwestern China has transferred US$4,500 meant for a supplier to a former customer by mistake
  • The beneficiary dodged attempts by the fruit seller to reach him, blocking his number and ignoring calls before finally admitting he spent the money
An accidental funds transfer to the wrong person made by a fruit seller in China has cost the man 30,000 yuan (US$4,481) of hard-earned money at a time when his business is suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The costly mistake happened last week when the fruit seller, surnamed Huang, from Chongqing in Sichuan province, southwestern China, transferred 30,000 yuan intended for one of his suppliers to a former customer by mistake through WeChat’s mobile payment function, reported Chongqing Radio & TV Group.

“On that morning my brother called and asked for money to restock some goods,” Huang said. “I transferred the money after I hung up the phone, but I later realised I made a mistake and sent it to the wrong person.”

Huang said the mistaken beneficiary was a former customer, surnamed Zheng, whom he had only met once. Photo: Sina

Huang moved to Chongqing six months ago to start a fruit wholesale business after another business he ran suffered a downturn.

“Because of the pandemic, it’s not easy to sell fruits this year,” an emotional Huang said during a local television interview. “In good times I can make a few hundred yuan per order, but sometimes I lose more than a thousand yuan (US$150) per order.”

Huang said the mistaken beneficiary was a former customer, surnamed Zheng, whom he had only met once, but he had added him on WeChat for possible future business.

Huang attempted to contact Zheng via WeChat and phoned him after realising his mistake, but was unable to make contact because the former customer had blocked him.

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“I then tried calling him on other people’s phones, but he turned off his phone after the first attempt,” Huang said.

However, a few days after the accidental transfer Zheng finally answered the phone, but he told Huang that he had already spent all of the money and would need a long time to pay it back.

Huang’s wife suggested that both men go to a police station and sign an IOU document in front of a police officer. Zheng, however, refused.

According to mainland Chinese law, Huang can request that Zheng, who obtained the money improperly, return it.

Huang sought assistance from local police, but they said they couldn’t force Zheng to return the money and advised him to file a lawsuit.