When a woman surnamed Zhai bought a black Chanel handbag for over 20,000 yuan (about $3,000) on Chinese social media last July, she thought she was getting the real deal.
The seller, called Ms. Ann in a Beijing News report, lived in the United States and made a living by helping others purchase brand name items, or so she had her customers believe.
But after receiving the bag, Zhai soon discovered it was a counterfeit and took Ann to court, where the latter revealed that the American lifestyle recorded on her WeChat social media account was an intricate hoax.
Ann is from Chongqing, a province-level urban conglomerate in southwest China with 30 million people.
Before buying from Ann, Zhai had friended her on WeChat after following her other social media accounts and seeing photos Ann supposedly took of herself and surroundings while abroad.
Ann had posts detailing how she couldn’t watch Chinese shows in the U.S. due to the restrictions placed on her foreign IP address, or how she would regularly go to American shopping malls to buy her goods.
Zhai wanted to buy the Chanel handbag after being told that it was a limited edition item, she told Beijing News.
But when what Zhai received smelt strongly of chemicals, she had it checked by an expert. The bag was a counterfeit made with ersatz leather and bore a fake product number.
Zhai caught up with Ann and is suing her for three times the value of the promised handbag. On March 3, Ann’s agent admitted at the Chaoyang People’s Court in Beijing that she had never been to the United States, and that her photos and products all came from a real seller living there.
But Ann denies that the bag Zhai produced is the one she bought from her.
“Though the bag submitted to the court has quality issue, it is impossible to prove it is the bag sold by the defendant, and neither is a refund possible,” Ann’s defense statement reads. “We don’t have any fraudulent intent.”
The plaintiff has refused mediation, and the case has yet to be resolved.