Dan Harris in South China Morning Post

On a single day in March, the founder of law firm Harris Bricken, Dan Harris, spoke to three separate people who had each lost north of US$1 million on mask export deals.

In one case, an American businessman had taken out a million-dollar loan to advance to a long-term Chinese textiles supplier, who wanted to make masks, but needed the capital to do so. The supplier disappeared with the money, leaving the businessman “all but catatonic with depression”, Harris said.