Po­lice say leader of scam, four oth­ers all con­fessed to lur­ing 23-year-old

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YI zhang_yi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Five peo­ple have been de­tained in connection with the death of a univer­sity grad­u­ate who po­lice say fell vic­tim to scam­mers on a job-seek­ing web­site.

One of the five sus­pects is ac­cused of play­ing a lead­ing role in the scheme and the other four were de­tained for sus­pected un­law­ful de­ten­tion, ac­cord­ing to po­lice in Tian­jin’s Jing­hai dis­trict on Sun­day.

All con­fessed that they lured Li Wenx­ing, a 23-year-old univer­sity grad­u­ate from Shan­dong prov­ince, into a pyra­mid scheme, the po­lice said.

Early on Sun­day morn­ing, 2,000 law en­force­ment of­fi­cers were sent out to catch scam­mers in Jing­hai. They re­ported spot­ting 301 places in the dis­trict, and 63 peo­ple, in­volved in pyra­mid schemes.

The dis­trict gov­ern­ment is­sued a state­ment on Sun­day say­ing that any whis­tle-blower iden­ti­fy­ing such ac­tiv­ity would be el­i­gi­ble for a re­ward of 20,000 yuan ($2,970).

Pyra­mid scheme or­ga­ni­za­tions of­ten prey on ill-in­formed vic­tims by promis­ing good-pay­ing jobs or lu­cra­tive fi­nan­cial re­turns.

Vic­tims are lured to what they be­lieve are reg­u­lar com­pa­nies, but are then in­structed by the scam­mers — of­ten un­der duress — to re­cruit friends and fam­ily or bor­row money from them, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor­i­ties. Mo­bile phones and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments are of­ten con­fis­cated, they say.

Scam­mers have been known to ex­tort money and even to kid­nap their tar­gets.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, a fraud­u­lent em­ploy­ment ad­ver­tise- ment was pub­lished on Zhipin, a re­cruit­ment web­site, which lured Li to Jing­hai on May 20.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say Li paid the fee to the scam­mers for the re­cruit­ment and was forced to stay in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s dor­mi­tory. He was only al­lowed to move around the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s premises, not out­side.

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

Ac­cord­ing to his fam­ily, Li asked his mother in his last call to her not to give money to any­one. Li’s se­nior high school class­mate Ding Xiangcheng said Li dis­cussed the job of­fer with him be­fore he left for Tian­jin.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, two of Li’s high school class­mates said Li 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.

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

Re­cruit­ment web­sites host­ing un­ver­i­fied com­pany in­for­ma­tion are com­mon. 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.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion shut down 16 re­cruit­ment web­sites in the cam­paign.

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