Tian­jin au­thor­i­ties pro­vide early re­sults in pyra­mid crack­down

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

The Tian­jin Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Bureau an­nounced early re­sults on Tues­day in what is ex­pected to be a 20-day cam­paign against pyra­mid schemes in the city.

It said po­lice have iden­ti­fied 85 sus­pects in­volved in pyra­mid schemes and bro­ken up 420 dens of the il­le­gal busi­ness oper­a­tion, af­ter two deaths were re­ported re­cently.

Around 3,000 po­lice of­fi­cers have been as­signed since Sun­day to fer­ret out the or­ga­ni­za­tions, it added.

About 100 sus­pects have been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with 86 scams since the be­gin­ning of this year, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the bureau.

Pyra­mid schemes usu­ally in­volve an or­ga­ni­za­tion that com­pels in­di­vid­u­als who wish to join to make a pay­ment, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion prom­ises its new mem­bers a share of the money taken from ev­ery ad­di­tional mem­ber they re­cruit.

In prac­tice, un­wit­ting vic­tims are of­ten lured to a place they be­lieve they will meet le­git­i­mate job re­cruiters. They are asked, of­ten un­der duress, to hand over hun­dreds of yuan to be­come a mem­ber.

The lead­ers of such or­ga­ni­za­tions al­ways profit from the re­cruit­ing of new mem­bers.

Zhang Chao, 25, was found dead on a road in Xiqing district of the city on the morn­ing of July 14, four days af­ter he in­ad­ver­tently joined a pyra­mid scheme or­ga­ni­za­tion, the po­lice said in a state­ment.

Po­lice de­tained two peo­ple con­nected to the or­ga­ni­za­tion on Mon­day who ad­mit­ted aban­don­ing Zhang af­ter find­ing that he was se­ri­ously ill, the po­lice said. Au­topsy re­sults will be avail­able in a month.

The body of 21-year-old univer­sity grad­u­ate Li Wenx­ing was found on July 14 in a pond in Tian­jin’s Jing­hai district. An au­topsy showed that he drowned, but the cir­cum­stances that led to his death are still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Five peo­ple were de­tained in Li’s case, and all con­fessed to lur­ing him into a pyra­mid scheme, the po­lice said.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, pyra­mid schemes are ram­pant in Jing­hai district. Lo­cal po­lice de­tained more than 400 sus­pects in 2015 and 2016. They car­ried out seven op­er­a­tions tar­get­ing one such or­ga­ni­za­tion, called Die Beilei, which they say caused the death of Li.

In Septem­ber 2007, the Tian­jin govern­ment set up a joint work­ing group to fight against the schemes. The au­thor­i­ties car­ried out seven op­er­a­tions tar­get­ing the il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

The two deaths made head­lines in Chi­nese me­dia be­cause both of them were lured into pyra­mid schemes in Tian­jin through job-seek­ing web­sites, rais­ing ques­tions about the le­git­i­macy of on­line re­cruit­ment web­sites and whether the sites should be re­spon­si­ble for vet­ting ad­ver­tis­ers.

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