A sharp-eyed 10-year-old girl in China who helped police rescue a group of people held prisoner by a pyramid organisation has been praised as a hero. The girl from Baotou in Inner Mongolia, northern China, found a 20 yuan (US$2.96) banknote with a plea for help written on it. The girl told her family who then called local police on Monday. Local news outlet Baotou News reported that a man being held against his will with a group of 10 others by a pyramid scheme criminal gang had scrawled a few sentences on the banknote begging for help. The note said there were 11 people being held captive on the third floor of a building in the city. They had been kidnapped and forced to work for the pyramid scheme and were guarded by a group of armed criminals, according to the note. “After locating the building we arrived with a locksmith to open the door and then located the 11 prisoners,” the police said. The 11 victims had been lured from across China to Baotou to work for the fake pyramid scheme after being promised alluring sounding jobs. Once they arrived, they were kept confined in the building and forced to lie in an attempt to trick family and friends into joining the operation. Some of the victims had been held captive for more than six months. ‘Watched him washed away’: search for Chinese boy, 3, who fell down manhole The man who wrote the note waited till the guards were not paying attention and hurriedly scrawled the plea for help on the banknote and then threw it from a window. The police said all the victims had now returned to their homes. Before leaving, the captive who smuggled out the note seeking help burst into tears while expressing his gratitude to his rescuers. The pyramid scheme is currently under further investigation. However, it is unclear if any of the people involved with the scheme were caught or charged by police. The young girl who discovered the note and raised the alarm has been lauded as a hero on Chinese social media. One Weibo user said: “How smart the child is! She and her family didn’t flinch from helping these people.” “The hero child deserves a bonus point in her future national college entrance exam,” another commented. The 11 Chinese cities most notorious for their pyramid schemes “Please do protect the child and her family from exposure, otherwise the pyramid operation criminals would come for revenge,” another warned. Pyramid scheme-related scams are common in China and often force unwitting people to work in slave-like conditions. In 2019, police in Anhui province, southeastern China, shut down a network of three million scammers claiming to be selling a “Nasa-certified” drink which it claimed was “life energy water” that came from ancient oceans but was in fact just ordinary groundwater.