The Olympics may have been delayed, but we got to see a gold medal dive anyway: Luckin Coffee dropped 75% in a single day’s trading as news emerged that nearly half its sales were fictional. The company claims to be investigating a scheme to falsify sales data perpetrated by the company COO, among others.

The company looks set to go out as it came in, in a wash of free coffee. Customers are flocking to its stores to cash in coupons. On the Chinese internet, commentators have already written a likely epitaph—”Hey Wall Street, thanks for the free coffee!”

Bottom line: Luckin is the most spectacular case of fraud we’ve seen in a while—and not all that surprising, coming from a company that has long had warning signs. It’s probably a cautionary tale about something—but you can take your pick of morals. 

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David Cohen

David Cohen is the acting editor in chief of TechNode. Since 2010, he has covered China as a writer and editor at outlets including the Diplomat, the Jamestown Foundation, and China Policy. He’s always...

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.