Seven men accused of posing as natural gas engineers who allegedly scammed more than 3,000 families have been arrested in central China, according to a newspaper report.
The suspects rented a van and wore blue jackets similar to the uniforms worn by genuine gas maintenance workers and travelled around several cities in Hunan province, Thepaper.cn reported.
The also wore counterfeit badges pinned to their chests.
The gang mainly targeted elderly people living in rural areas.
They claimed to work for a state-owned natural gas company and offered to carry out free maintenance work after briefing residents on gas safety issues.
The suspects would then spray detergent on a valve and allege there was a leak by pointing at the bubbles.
They offered to replace the valve “for free” but required the family pay 119 yuan (HK$133) as a “security deposit”.
Some victims contacted the police after finding the company phone numbers left by the workmen did not work.
The men were arrested last week and their fake documents and uniforms were seized.
They earned 360,000 yuan in revenue from the scam since June, with 250,000 yuan clear profit, the report said.