Chinese police find US$30 million in jobless woman’s flat during crackdown on pyramid scheme

Officers find cupboards and boxes full of hoarded banknotes as part of series of raids that snared 24 suspects

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 2:28pm

Police in northeastern China have seized 200 million yuan (US$30.2 million) in cash from an unemployed woman’s flat in a crackdown on a pyramid scheme, according to local media reports.

Details of the case were published after a video of the money in the woman’s flat went viral on social media, Liaoshen Evening Post reported.

A total of 24 suspects were detained by police across China on December 3, including the woman who lived in the flat, identified only by her surname Zhu, and the alleged head of the syndicate, surnamed Meng.

The scheme appears to have started years ago and grown across China. Police told the newspaper that in its last two months of operation it had attracted nearly 100,000 members from 25 provinces.

The report said that Zhu, 46, who lost her job in state-owned company nearly two decades ago in Tieling, a city in Liaoning province, had made a fortune from the scheme.

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The video shows that there were several cupboards and 15 cardboard boxes filled with money.

Police broke three cash counting machines while trying to calculate the amount of money confiscated from the flat, the report said.

Zhu’s brother, one of the detained suspects, had helped her to hide the money, police were quoted as saying.

She had told her friends she sold cosmetics for a living and made about 2 million yuan a year. She is divorced and her only daughter is studying aboard.

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The scheme charged new members 3,900 yuan and encouraged them to recruit more members to get a bonus.

The scheme was said to have been worth about 600 million yuan, some of which had been invested in property and other assets. The bulk of the money is reported to have gone to the figures at the top of the pyramid.