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QR code chaos: Innocent photo sparks malicious ordering spree

By Xu Zhesheng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-12-04 21:28

A seemingly innocent social media post has turned into a costly nightmare for a woman in Kunming, Yunnan Province. After sharing a photo of her hot pot dinner online, her QR code for ordering was accidentally captured, leading to a barrage of malicious orders totaling over 430,000 yuan ($60,000).

The woman, surnamed Wang, and her friends were enjoying their meal at a popular hot pot restaurant when she decided to share a picture of their spread on social media. Unfortunately, the photo inadvertently included the QR code for ordering, which was prominently displayed on their table.

Taking advantage of this unintentional exposure, someone maliciously scanned the QR code and began placing orders one after another. Even after Wang realized the situation and deleted the post, the fraudulent orders continued to flood in. The restaurant staff was forced to assign Wang and her friends a new table to separate the legitimate orders from the fake ones.

Wang's account of the incident quickly spread online, sparking discussions and concerns among netizens. Many users shared similar experiences of having their QR codes captured and misused for malicious purposes, highlighting the potential risks associated with QR code ordering.

Lin Xiaoming, a lawyer based in Sichuan Province, suggested that ordering platforms could implement safeguards to prevent such incidents. These measures could include requiring customers to make a pre-payment before placing orders, as well as imposing penalties, such as credit score deductions, for those engaged in malicious or fake ordering.

In response to the incident, the hot pot restaurant has adjusted its ordering system, limiting the distance from which orders can be placed, in an attempt to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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