A health worker wears modified riding glasses as goggles. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Police Arrest Three Suspects for Face Mask Fraud


JUNE 08, 2020

Jakarta. The police have arrested three people and charged them with fraud for pretending to sell face masks to buyers in Indonesia and Hong Kong.

"The suspects took advantage of the pandemic by pretending to sell cheap face masks, Rp 75,000 [$5.35] for a small box of them and Rp 1.7 million for a large box, on Instagram," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Awi Setiyono said on Monday.

He said the fake sellers uploaded fake receipts and screenshots of customer testimonies screenshot on their Instagram account to convince buyers.

Interested buyers were asked to contact the fake sellers on a phone number listed on the Instagram account, Awi said.


"Once the buyers transferred their payment, the fake sellers disappeared. They changed their phone number and the name of their Instagram account. The masks were never sent to the buyers," Awi said in an online press conference.

The National Police's cybercrime head, Reinhard Hutagaol, said the three suspects' initials are YM, MF and MG.

Reinhard said Indonesian police had received a report from Asean Police (Aseanapol) about an online fraud case involving a victim in Hong Kong.

"After further investigation, we found eight other victims, including an Indonesian citizen who lives in Hong Kong and seven victims from Indonesia. So far, we've found a total of nine victims," Reinhard said.

Each of the suspects played a different role in their operation. According to Reinhard, YM handled the Instagram account and uploaded videos, photos and all the information about the masks they were supposedly selling.

MF manages the bank account the victims transferred their payment to and MG was in charge of withdrawing the money from ATMs.

"The evidence we've confiscated includes seven mobile phones, a saving book, five ATM cards, nine SIM cards, an Instagram account, two watches and two shirts," Reinhard said.

The suspects are charged with the 2016 Law on Electronic Information and Transaction (UU ITE) and face up to six years in prison, the 2010 Law on Prevention and Eradication of Money Laundering that carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and the 2011 Law on Transnational Crime, which can put them behind bars for up to 5 years.

Meanwhile, spokesman Awi claimed the crime rate – including transnational crime – in May had decreased by 7.9 percent since April. 

"There were 15,395 crime cases in April and 14,179 cases in May, a drop of 1,216 cases or 7.9 percent. The drop was experienced in all types of crime, including transnational crime, conventional crime and corruption against the state," Awi said.