June 5, 2020 kestenbaumh

The following story was originally written and published by The Korean Daily and translated into English by Jongwon Lee. The translation was made possible thanks to financial support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The story is being republished here with permission from The Korean Daily and is available for republication with full attribution by all NJ News Commons members. For more information about this program or for republication rules, contact the Center for Cooperative Media at [email protected].

COVID-19 scams target Korean nail salons in New Jersey

By Jongwon Park, Staff Reporter
The Korea Daily, 05/14/2020

Original story: http://www.koreadaily.com/news/read.asp?art_id=8118799

BERGEN COUNTY — A group of small business owners warns Korean-owned nail salons in New Jersey about imposter callers using the coronavirus pandemic to steal their money and personal information.

Several fraudulent calls claiming to be the Korean Nail Business Association of New Jersey (KNBANJ) were reported, according to Jong Man Son, president of KNBANJ. 

On a number of incidents, scammers promised nail salon owners of free online advertisement in exchange of their personal information.

A recorded call from a scammer said: “We are from KNBANJ. We are collaborating with Google and promoting Korean nail salons for free. Write down the six-digit number and call Google. You will have a free advertisement [during this pandemic].”

“KNBANJ will never make such a call,” Son added. “Our members must inform their employees not to engage or call Google.”

Price gouging

Scammers also reached out to nail salon owners online, claiming to have access to a large number of face masks. A scammer identified as C, for example, was selling a box of face masks for $51. 

But some scammers are members of the Korean community. 

In Korea Town, several retail shops are buying South Korean-made face mask for less than a dollar a piece and then selling it for $6.50.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) warned business owners that price-gouging violations are punishable by civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses. 

Be alert and careful

Since the coronavirus outbreak, DCA has received about 270 consumer complaints, alleging price gouging or other unfair business practices. 

Son urged Korean-owned nail salon to stay alert and be careful not to fall victims of scams during this pandemic.

“We should take care of our customers’ health, but we should also take care of our own businesses,” Son said.