The Tucson, Arizona, woman purchased a handbag at the local Wal-Mart, and found a tiny, folded, handwritten note inside a zipper compartment. The note was written in Chinese, which she quickly had translated.
"It actually stated that the person who wrote that was a prisoner in China," the woman told Tucson NBC-affiliate KVOA.
She described the translation, which detailed, "Basically what their situation was and how they work long hours: 14 hours a day. And they don't have a lot to eat."
The note underwent three translations by three separate Chinese speakers, who came to the same result each time.
The American shopper, speaking with the television station, stated, "I don't have the means or the access to help in any way. So I think this was my way of putting in my two cents."
"I don't want this to be an attack on any store," she added, "that's not the answer. This is happening at all kinds of places and people just probably don't know."
A Wal-Mart spokesperson stated, "We can't comment specifically on this note, because we have no way to verify the origin of the letter, but one of our requirements for the suppliers who supply products for sale at Walmart is all work should be voluntary as indicated in our Standards for Suppliers."
KVOA provided the translation of the note, which reads in full:
"Inmates in the Yingshan Prison in Guangxi, China are working 14 hours daily with no break/rest at noon, continue working overtime until 12 midnight, and whoever doesn't finish his work will be beaten. Their meals are without oil and salt. Every month, the boss pays the inmate 2,000 yuan, any additional dishes will be finished by the police. If the inmates are sick and need medicine, the cost will be deducted from the salary. Prison in China is unlike prison in America, horse cow goat pig dog [indicating inhumane treatment, according to translators]."
Letters such as this one have recently been documented in products purchased at US retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and K-Mart. At one point, a Chinese worker seeking rescue identified himself by signing the note and including a small color photograph and email address.