Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Ventilators in High Demand Are Spawning Scams Across China

Fraudsters are offering bogus contracts for the difficult-to-obtain devices.
relates to Ventilators in High Demand Are Spawning Scams Across China
Photographer: Getty Images

As hospitals and governments around the world furiously search for medical ventilators to help treat Covid-19 patients, some have been drawn to the large number of merchants in China offering to sell the lifesaving machines. One account on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter and the country’s most popular microblogging site, is offering 1,000 of Beijing Aeonmed Co.’s VG70 ventilators for sale. But the listing is far from a find.

First, the seller’s price of about $51,000 apiece is roughly 50% more than the model’s usual price. An investigation of the seller’s history shows that the Weibo account until recently focused on blogging about beauty products and posting makeup photos, rather than marketing medical equipment. Moreover, Li Kai, a director of Beijing Aeonmed, the purported maker of the machines in the Weibo listing, told Bloomberg News the seller can’t possibly have that many of its products in stock. When a reporter contacted the seller for an explanation and comment, the account blocked Bloomberg News from communicating with it.