Not satisfied with simply robbing a victim of her money, some fraudsters decide to add insult to injury.
Last November, a 33-year-old woman in Chongqing City in the Guangxi Province of China was contacted by someone telling her that her personal information may have been compromised. As a result a 1,300 yuan (US$190) phone bill was amassed in her name.
The person on the other end of the line also advised the woman to take all of her money and transfer it to a safe account. Doing this would prevent it from being accessed by whoever stole her identity. The woman complied and moved all 5,300 yuan ($770) to the designated account.
However, the next day the woman thought the whole event was a little fishy, so she called back the person. She told them that she felt uncomfortable with their arrangement and wanted to withdraw her money, so the person on the other end instructed her to “pour cola into the ATM” and it would come back to her.
Again strictly adhering to the anonymous person’s instructions, the woman purchased a bottle of Pepsi and went to the ATM. She then set up a deposit, but rather than money, began pouring the dark fizzy beverage into the hole.
However, no money came out, so she decided to go to another branch and try again. The second attempt was also a failure but by this time regular bank customers were noticing the malfunctioning and sticky ATMs left in her wake and notified the police.
Despite the video evidence, it wasn’t until 6 May that an arrest was made for vandalism with over 60,000 yuan ($8,700) in damage caused to the machines. However, upon learning that the woman was clearly the victim of a phishing scam, they decided to not press charges until a full investigation is conducted.
Comments from Japan were also somewhat lenient on the victim, instead focusing on other details of the case.
“Boy, they make big bottles of Pepsi in China.”
“It’s amazing how easy it can be to trick people.”
“Interesting that she chose Pepsi. Whenever I hear ‘cola’ I just assume Coke.”
“Yeah, I don’t usually think of ‘cola’ and ‘Pepsi’ as the same thing for some reason.”
“That reminds me of the time people put their smartphones in the microwave to charge them.”
In defense of the woman, a small baby is seen with her in parts of the video. As a parent of young children myself, I can understand how easy it is to get frazzled. Mind you, I’ve never been to the point of pouring soft drinks into machines to make them work, but I can still relate.
The baby also emphasizes what a heinous act this was on the part of the scammers to not only clean out the woman’s bank account but also needlessly make her commit a crime herself, possibly putting her further in debt.
Hopefully justice will be served for all parties involved, but perhaps Pepsi — the “strongest” of all carbonated drinks — can step in and help a struggling mother out. After all, her misadventure has inadvertently helped several people in Japan associate the brand with the word “cola.”