A woman enters a jewellery store, asks to be shown a necklace from the cabinet, puts it around her neck and then sprints for the door.

Panicked, the shop assistant leaps over the counter and runs after her, only to stop, embarrassed, when the woman stops to admire the necklace in a mirror as if she never intended to steal the piece of jewellery in the first place.

Sound ridiculous? Welcome to the absurd “jewellery-stealing prank” that has taken off in China, with people posting videos of themselves online looking like they’re about to – and then not – stealing jewellery.

The “prank” may turn out to be a publicity stunt, though it is not clear what it might be advertising, given we never see any detail of the jewellery and the “thief” ends up looking like a callous joker.

But it is the latest in a series of viral trends focused around consumption and possessions to have taken off in Asia.

The “jewellery-stealing” is thought to copy the “shoe-stealing prank” that was popularised by Indonesian Instagram influencer Harvinth Skin, who posted a video of himself putting on a pair of expensive trainers and the sprinting out of the shop, only to turn around and sprint back in, as if he was just checking their performance.

The video of his prank, posted at the end of November has been seen more than one million times on Instagram.

In his Instagram post, Skin apologised to the sales assistant who sprinted after him, saying “I’m sorry I gave you a heart attack my bro” and telling the store to give him a raise.

No such apologies seem to be offered by the people participating in the jewellery version of the prank, which often ends with the shop assistant looking embarrassed and walking away from the would-be thief.

China was recently swept up in the “Falling stars” or “flaunt your wealth” viral challenge. It involved participants posting photos of themselves face down with their possessions scattered around them, after apparently having fallen down a flight of stairs or out of a sports car.

The “challenge”, which was believed to have started in Russia, was used as a chance for people to show off their luxury goods. Among the posts included one showing a woman in Shanxi province lying on the ground in a parking lot, having apparently tripped while getting out of a red Ferrari. In another, two women in China’s eastern Zhejiang province lie prone on a pedestrian crossing, with their Gucci bags and make-up spilled onto the street.