In the past few days, a number of sites, including Shanghaiist and Rocket News, have reported on a strange phenomenon — Chinese fraudsters filling walnut shells with rocks and cement and selling them as fresh walnuts.
This video, which explains how to spot a fake walnut, has also been doing the rounds:
The trade in fake walnuts may sound ridiculous, but there is some more evidence to support the stories.
For example, last year Chinese news site Netease reported that a man in Zhengzhou city, Henan province, had bought 2.5 kilos of walnut from a street vendor only to find they were full of concrete chips.
The scam goes like this — the walnut husk had been emptied of its nutmeat, filled with concrete and paper and then glued shut again. For the fraudsters, they can almost double their profits with the trick, selling both the nutmeat and the fake nuts.
Such a trade makes sense in China, where walnuts have become ridiculously expensive over the last few years — from 350 yuan 10 years ago, to as much as 3,500 yuan, or 20,000 – 30,000 yuan (almost $5,000) last year.
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