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5 Pyramid Scammers Detained in Death of Grad Seeking Job

August 10, 2017

Five people have been arrested in connection with the death of a university graduate who was allegedly the victim of website scam. Police said that the leader of scam and four others have confessed to luring Li Wenxing, a 23-year-old university graduate from Shandong province, into a pyramid scheme.

Police representative in Tianjin’s Jinghai district on Sunday stated that one suspect is accused of taking the leader role in the scheme, while the other four were captive for suspected unlawful detention.

Earlier on Sunday morning (Aug 6), 2,000 law enforcement officers were sent out to catch scammers in Jinghai. From the operation, it was reported that there are 301 places in the district spotted and 63 people involved in the pyramid schemes, Asia One reports.

Official statement from the district government issued on Sunday stated that there will be a reward of 20,000 yuan (S$4,036) for those who are willing to be the whistle-blower in identifying such activity.

Pyramid scheme organisations are known for their activities in preying on ill-informed victims by promising good-paying jobs or lucrative financial returns.

According to the authorities, victims are typically lures to what they believe as regular companies. Then, the scammers instructed them, often by force, to recruit friends and family members or borrow certain amount of money from them.

See: Jobs for Life Concept No Longer Exist in Singapore: Randstad Findings

In their acts, the victims’ mobile phones and identification documents are often confiscated. The scammers are also known to extort money and even to kidnap their targets.

Police said that a Li was lured to Jinghai on May 20 from seeing a fraudulent employment advertisement that was published on Zhipin, a recruitment website. Investigators revealed that Li paid the fee to the scammers for the recruitment and was forced to stay in the organisation’s dormitory. During the time, he was only allowed to move around the organisation’s areas, not outside.

Li’s body was found on July 14 in a pond in Jinghai. The autopsy showed he died from drowning, but the real circumstances that led to his death are still under investigation.

According to his family, in his last call to his mother, Li asked her not to give money to anyone. Li’s senior high school classmate Ding Xiangcheng also added that Li discussed the job offer with him before he left for Tianjin. According to media reports, two of Li’s high school classmates admitted that Li had borrowed 500 yuan from them before he was found dead.

The Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Tianjin Committee launched a campaign against pyramid schemes recently.

Head of the commission, Zhao Fei said that Jinghai is an area with rampant pyramid scheme activity which must be eliminated within 20 days.

Apparently, recruitment websites hosting unverified company information are not unusual in China. To eradicate the practices, the Cyberspace Administration of China launched a campaign last year targeting illegal activities related to recruitment websites, including fraud and offers of jobs from pyramid operations.

So far, the administration shut down 16 recruitment websites in the campaign.

Read also: Community Job-Matching Programme to Pilot in North East District

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