We looked into an 'American' website selling boxes of 50 surgical masks for S$40.20

Be careful of fear-mongering business strategies during this time.

Jane Zhang| February 13, 09:40 AM

[UPDATED on Monday, Feb. 17 at 10:15am] A Mothership reader who had spent approximately S$420 on 10 boxes of masks from MedicalLex received an update from the company that her order has been cancelled.

She shared with us this email that they sent:

The email claimed that the cancellation was due to "an unexpected delay of shipment which has heavily affected our delivery time".

The Mothership reader alerted us this morning that she received a full refund from the company.

At the time of writing this update, the MedicalLex Facebook page is no longer available, although the website appears to still be functional.

[End of update.]

Many in Singapore have been responding to the coronavirus situation in a less-than-calm way, as seen in the mass panic-buying of masks and food.

And there have been a fair share of individuals and businesses taking advantage of the public panic, reselling masks and exorbitant prices.

One such business that has been accused of scamming consumers is MedicalLex, which sells disposable face masks.

You may have seen their ads floating around Facebook over the past week or so.

A first glance at MedicalLex

When Mothership first visited MedicalLex's website on Feb. 10, we found that users must first wait "in line", before being given 10 minutes on the website.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

There were apparently 176 people ahead of us, and we had a wait time of one minute.

After about two minutes, during which the little walking person graphic moved across the screen, we were directed to MedicalLex's homepage.

The website queue now appears to have been removed, and visiting the webpage brings you directly to the home page.

A quick look at MedicalLex's website shows a legitimate-looking design with clean graphics, decent grammar, and glowing reviews.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

The website sells one product: boxes of disposable surgical masks that come in packs of 10, with five packs per box for 50 masks per box.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

Each box of 50 is selling at US$28.99 (S$40.20), although the currency in which customers are charged is not immediately obvious until checkout.

The address on the website footer locates it in Arizona, U.S.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

According to the website, the masks are produced in Canada, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, "etc", and even includes an additional note directly stating that their masks are not made in or shipped from China:

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

Here are the countries it ships from.

Cool.

However, a closer look at the website shows some apparent inconsistencies.

Tens of thousands of customers in one week

MedicalLex claims on its homepage to have served 70,000 "happy customers".

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

The information in the website's footer shows a slight discrepancy of 68,500+ customers.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

However, according to a Whois lookup, the website's domain was only created on Feb. 4, 2020.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

Similarly, the brand's Facebook page was only set up on February 5, 2020.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / MedicalLex.

According to MedicalLex's FAQs, it normally takes one to two business days to process the orders, and then another one to two weeks to be delivered, depending on customers' locations and selected shipping options.

There is, however, the option to opt for express shipping, which allegedly takes two to five working days and costs US$29.56 (S$40.98), more than a box of masks.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

In addition, MedicalLex has a number of notices on its website to encourage customers to buy quickly, by claiming low supply and high demand.

For example, these messages appear at the top of the checkout screen:

 

 

medicallex scam

Fake reviews

In addition, the website claims to boast more than 750 glowing reviews by happy customers.

However, only 20 of the 759 reviews appear to load.

In addition, the images and comments of the "customers" who supposedly wrote the reviews appear on other websites and social media platforms.

For example, "Michel" had this to say about MedicalLex masks:

"I got exactly what I ordered as described by the seller. quality is very good and light comfortable to wear. there is no unpleasant odour they remain fairly cool and easily breathable to wear during use.I purchased 50 masks which came in 5 clear bags of ten great to keep clean dust free until required."

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

Her review, however, matches word-for-word the review that Amazon user Tanya left on this product on May 10, 2019:

medicallex scam Image screen captured from Amazon.

Similarly, the review by "Todd K." for MedicalLex reads exactly like another Amazon customer's review, which was posted on Feb. 10, 2017.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from Amazon.

A reverse image search of "Michel" shows that the image appears to have been posted under multiple hashtags meaning "mask" or "face mask" in German, Spanish, and Italian.

medicallex scam

"Mike" raved about the quality of the masks' fabric and lamented that he wasn't able to buy more masks due to the website's restrictions.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from medicallex.com.

"Mike" also appeared as a sample image in this tutorial about how to sharpen portraits on Photoshop.

And "Jennifer" from Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S., who said that MedicalLex is her "favorite", appeared in a stock photo taken in Spain.

Skeptical Facebook users

Some netizens have taken to Facebook to share their experiences with MedicalLex.

One Welyn Cat

target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">posted on Facebook group SG Blacklists Profiteering Retailers about a discrepancy in replies by MedicalLex to two different Facebook commenters.

Replying to one Facebook user, Bryanne Yang, MedicalLex confirmed that there are 50 masks per box. However, replying a comment by one ManNèè Ow, the page affirmed that there are 250 masks in one box.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / Welyn Cat.

Welyn Cat's post also included screenshots of multiple other commenters complaining about paying large amounts of money and urging one another to call their respective banks.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / Welyn Cat.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / Welyn Cat.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / Welyn Cat.

However, those comments don't seem to be under MedicalLex's Facebook post from February 6.

While Facebook shows that there should 122 comments on the post, the majority of them are unable to be viewed.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / MedicalLex.

A Mothership reader told us that she tried to comment on the posts on MedicalLex's Facebook page to "inform everyone that it's a scam" but claimed to eventually have been blocked.

One of the few comments of a positive nature on MedicalLex's Facebook page is by one Serena Scott.

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / MedicalLex.

However, a closer look at Serena Scott's profile shows that she has only one Facebook friend.

In addition, her Facebook URL has a distinctly different name from "Serena Scott" - Zahra Shirafkan.

A number of people have bought from the website

A number of people in both Malaysia and Singapore have made purchases from MedicalLex.

Malaysian Chinese-language newspaper Sinchew Daily reported that the Commercial Crime Investigation Department of Bukit Aman has received 25 reports so far, and that preliminary estimations of the amount spent total to RM460,000 (S$154,365).

Another Mothership reader informed us that she and 10 of her "close contacts" made purchases on the website.

She claims to have spent around S$420 on surgical masks from the website, as MedicalLex caps the number of boxes that any one individual can purchase to 10.

She said that the 10 people she knows that also purchased from the website spent similar amounts of money.

MedicalLex responds

In an update posted on Feb. 10, MedicalLex claimed that a batch of 100,000 masks had been packaged and shipped from Germany and Ukraine to their warehouse and is expected to arrive on Feb. 18.

They also addressed people's claims that they had not yet received their orders, saying that no orders are delayed, but are yet to be dispatched.

The company also threatened legal action against those who "defame" the brand without proof, and shared photos to further prove their legitimacy, such as of a quality service certificate and a box of masks, both with details blurred out.

However, Facebook user 珍林 pointed out in a

target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">post that the certificate which MedicalLex claims is theirs matches exactly with the quality service certificate of German trading company AMPri, which has been operating for 25 years, according to their
target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook page.

Here are the two certificates:

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / MedicalLex.

medicallex scam Image via ampri.de.

All of the dates on the certificates are exactly the same, and the MedicalLex certificate appears to have blurred out the information where the other certificate shows that it belongs to AMPri.

More importantly, even the signature of the certificate that MedicalLex claims is theirs matches the signature on the AMPri certificate.

The box of masks that MedicalLex posted also appears on the AMPri website:

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / MedicalLex.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from ampri.de.

In another update target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">posted on Feb. 11, MedicalLex once again gave an update on the order situation and gave another warning about legal actions for people speaking against them:

"Please understand that we are fully aware of the recent circulations going round in Singapore and Malaysia to discredit our brand, MedicalLex™. While this is a sorry development, kindly be advised that we are on top of the situation and have contacted our legal team to consider suing for defamation of character."

They also said that those who want to cancel their order can do so by emailing them so that they can issue a "special cancellation" so that the order can be given to "those in dire need who appreciate our efforts during this time of crisis".

This post included a collage of photos, including an invoice for 50 cartons of face masks.

While the information on the invoice appears to be blurred out, it is still possible to make out the words "Agemac Supply & Trading Co. Ltd".

medicallex scam Image via Facebook / MedicalLex.

The company by that name appears to be a computer company in Nigeria.

medicallex scam Image screen captured from manufacturerss.com.

Nigeria is not one of the countries that MedicalLex has mentioned they work with.

Mothership has reached out to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the police for a statement. We have also contacted MedicalLex for comment.

Top image via medicallex.com.

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