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WeChat users warned of green packet prank | Updated: 2017-02-06 15:03

(ECNS) -- People obsessed with digital red packets on WeChat, China's major instant-messaging app, have been warned to pay attention to the packet color, or they may end up giving money instead of receiving it.

It is common for Chinese to distribute money in red envelopes, or "hongbao," among friends and relatives during the Lunar New Year, and mobile payments have made virtual hongbao increasingly popular.

But the WeChat app offers two types of envelopes now, a regular red envelope and a green one.

The red one allows users to choose a fixed amount of money, as well as a lucky draw, which usually spurs the competition to win the money, although speed doesn't guarantee a lion's share. Normally when a user gives a digital hongbao in a WeChat group, a button turns red and other users can click it to share.

The less-used green one facilitates a fundraising or cost-sharing option for a group activity.

The catch is when people are anxious to share a virtual envelop in a WeChat group, someone may activate the green collect-money function, and other users simply click, not realizing until later that they actually gave money.

A man surnamed Li in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality said he almost lost ten yuan ($1.46) in a former classmate's WeChat group when someone activated the collect-money function, reported Chongqing Morning Post.

Another resident surnamed Wu said she didn't clearly see if the option was red or green, so she lost 20 yuan, but she didn't feel as if she had been cheated, as "It's just for fun."

The paper's interview with 10 randomly selected residents also found that most think the green packet, which occasionally appears in a festive WeChat group, is just a prank.

According to WeChat, some 14.2 billion red packets were given and received on WeChat on Friday alone, the eve of Spring Festival, which was 75.7 percent more than last year.

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