Gov Sent a Demand Letter to Profiteering Seller of Masks; Now Also Targeting Online Sellers


You know those videos advertisements you’ve always seen before you watch your favourite JianHao Tan or NOC videos?

You know, those my-name-is videos that purported to teach you how to sell stuff online, and make tens of thousands of dollars a month just by working four hours a week?

Well, what they’d teach is simple: find a product that’s high in demand, buy cheap products from Alibaba and sell them online.

We’ve an article that teaches you how to do it, so check it out if you want to. And no, we’re not selling courses, because if we know the secret, we definitely won’t teach you.

Reader Bao: Why are you promoting an old article with this new article?

Because chances are, some of these sellers might have just got into trouble.

Government Sent Demand Letters to Profiteering Sellers of Masks

By now, you should know that surgical masks are high in demand; so high that retailers have run out of stock, and queues in malls are no longer for the mouthless Hello Kitty but for your mouth.

And you’d also know that the Government is giving four masks to each household.

But do you know that while each mask is sold at about $0.25 in legit retailers like Watsons or Guardian, the cost price of the masks isn’t high?

A simple check on Alibaba shows that you can buy one for like less than SGD$0.01—that’s excluding shipping and minimum order, but do note that I did the search now, whereby there’s a high demand for the masks worldwide.

Image: Alibaba

So you get the gist: you can get a tidy profit if you buy them in bulk and sell them online at a normal price.

You can get an even bigly profit if you sell them at an inflated price.

Like, $1 per piece.

And unfortunately, some sellers are doing that to prey on kiasi Singaporeans.

Technically speaking, on a normal day, it’s perfectly fine to do that: we’re all capitalists and that’s how the earth spins.

But when sellers tried to get rich from this crisis, it’s not fine and the Government’s not happy.


After announcing the free surgical masks to Singapore households and promising to bring in more masks to reputable retailers, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has responded.

They said that in “response to public complaints of sellers taking advantage of the Wuhan Coronavirus situation to sell surgical masks at grossly inflated prices, the Price Controller has issued a letter of demand to Deen Express.

“Deen Express is to explain to the Price Controller the basis of their selling prices for the sale of masks, including their cost price and profit margins. MTI will use such information to assess the need for further action under the Price Control Act.”

A check online shows that Deen Express is a shop at 313@Somerset mall. According to an image taken by a netizen, the shop was selling N95 masks at about $88 per box that contains 20 pieces—which works out to be about $4.40 per mask.

deen express
Image: Google Maps / Reviews

In Watsons, each mask costs about $2.


Other than Deen Express, that’s singled out by the MTI, the ministry has also contacted e-commerce platforms Lazada, Carousell and Qoo10 to request for information on any potential profiteers on their platform.

Not sure why Shopee isn’t in the squad, and not sure if they’re happy or sad to be left out, but anyways.

The companies will have to respond to the Price Controller’s queries by Monday, 3 February 2020. Failure to comply with the request for information can be liable to be fined up to $10,000 for the first offence, and up to $20,000 for the second and subsequent offences.

Oh, don’t pray pray.

The ministry also explained the rationale behind their actions: they said that “profiteering is highly irresponsible and damaging in these uncertain times”, and urged retailers to “practise corporate social responsibility and not take advantage of the increased demand to raise prices unreasonably.”

Qoo10  & Carousell Have Already Taken Action

Prior to the Government’s intervention, both Qoo10 and Carousell have already mentioned publicly that they would suspend sellers who inflated the prices of face marks unreasonably—even if it’s just a joke ($1,000 for a mask, anyone?).


In other words, if you intend to make money from this crisis, you might want to stop what you’re doing and just go do some exercise. I heard that exercising can wash away a person’s sins.