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Man fined $1,000 for reselling masks in Richmond during COVID-19 pandemic

The 22-year-old student was re-selling the masks from a mall parking lot
A 22-year-old man was busted by Richmond bylaw officers for re-selling masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook screenshot

By Nono Shen/Kirsten Clarke

A man has been busted by Richmond bylaw officers for allegedly reselling medical masks in the parking lot of Lansdowne Centre.

The incident was caught on video Tuesday by Global News, who first reported the story.

In that video, a bylaw officer appears to tell the 22-year-old student that they had been texting with him about the masks for a couple of days, before catching him in the act Tuesday.

He was then fined $1,000 for operating a business without a license.

The Richmond News has asked the city – which did not respond by the time of publication – how common this type of “sting” tactic is, and how many fines the city has issued related to the reselling of masks and other goods. 

The News will update this story should that information become available.

When asked by the News, the man – who only gave his last name, Wang – said he spent approximately $4,488 (CNY ¥22,500) when he ordered 1,000 face masks from China on Mar. 21, before new provincial rules came into effect.

On Mar. 25, the province banned the reselling of essential goods and medical supplies, to crack down on those seeking to profit off the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wang said he originally wanted to buy a smaller number of masks, just for friends and family, but the factory he ordered from in China requires a minimum order of 1,000.

He said that, to “share” the extra masks with the community, he posted on the Vancouver Street Community Facebook group on Mar. 21, asking anyone interested to contact him. His post was later removed by the group’s administrator following new provincial rules.

The masks have now been confiscated by the city’s bylaw officers.

“A person (an undercover bylaw officer) texted me on Mar. 26 and asked to buy masks from me,” Wang told the News.

“I thought he really needed them, so I did not hesitate to offer him what I had in hand just to help my friends out.”

But Wang said he didn’t expect the city’s bylaw officers and Global News cameras to be waiting for him.

“They set this up. I am not reselling (masks) for profit,” said Wang.

Read more from the Richmond News