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Five people arrested in China for selling fake Botox, beauty products

Chinese police bust an underground network that sold £3.4 million worth of fake Botox injections and beauty products

  • Fake Botox, vitamin C injections and hyaluronic acid were sold to 1,000 patients
  • The counterfeit products have been used on patients in more than 10 provinces 
  • Five people have been charged by police in Hunan for selling unregulated goods 
  • Scam emerged last September after a snap inspection of a beauty parlour 

Police in China have uncovered a supply network of unlicensed and fake beauty products sold to beauty parlours in at least 10 provinces, state media said. 

Nearly 30 million yuan (£3.4 million) worth of counterfeit Botox, vitamin C injections, hyaluronic acid and unlicensed equipment have been sold to patients over a six-month period, according to Xinhua news agency. 

Five people have been charged by police in Changde city, Hunan province for selling fake and unregulated products and endangering public health. 

Nearly £3.4 million worth of counterfeit Botox, vitamin C injections, hyaluronic acid and unlicensed equipment have been sold to patients in a six-month period (file photo)


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Police were first alerted to the case in September last year during a snap inspection of a beauty parlour in Changde city, where they discovered counterfeit Botox and vitamin C injections as well as unlicensed hyaluronic acid. 

The products were traced back to a supplier in Jilin province, identified only as Zuo, who was selling them on messaging app WeChat. 

Investigators then raided Zuo’s beauty parlour and the shop inventory, seizing 2,300 items including bottles of counterfeit hyaluronic acid and various beauty products. It is not known where the items were produced. 

Demand for non-invasive beauty procedures such as Botox, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid injections has been on the rise in China in recent years (file photo)

Zuo has sold unlicensed products to more than 1,000 people across various provinces including Hunan, Liaoning, Fujian, Guangdong, Qinghai, Jilin and Heilongjiang since November 2016, according to shipping records.  

Transaction records show that the supplier had made 30 million yuan (£3.4) in the past six months, the report added.   

Demand for non-invasive beauty procedures such as Botox and hyaluronic acid injections has been on the rise in China in recent years, leading to an increasing number of unlicensed doctors and clinics that obtain products from dubious sources. 

Police were first alerted to the case in September last year during an inspection of a beauty parlour in Changde city (pictured), where they discovered fake Botox and vitamin C injections

Up to 70 per cent of Botox and hyaluronic acid sold in the country are believed to be counterfeit or illegally smuggled into the country, according to statistics (file photo)

Botox and other botulinum neurotoxin products are becoming widely used in treating facial wrinkles by paralysing facial muscles while hyaluronic acid is often used in skincare products to ease signs of ageing. 

Up to 70 per cent of Botox and hyaluronic acid sold in the country are believed to be counterfeit or illegally smuggled into the country, according to China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics. 

China’s medical cosmetology market is expected to worth 300 billion yuan (£34 billion) by 2020, according to research from Chinese investment bank CITIC Securities.

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