Chinese Police Bust $47 Million Purported Blockchain Pyramid Scheme


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Chinese law enforcement has dismantled an RMB300 million pyramid scheme purporting to be blockchain project in yet another crackdown on faux crypto-based fraud.

A gang of over ten suspects involved in the pyramid scheme has been arrested by police in Jinan, the capital city of the Shangdong province in eastern China according to a China Money Network report. The accused reportedly established the unnamed e-commerce platform disguised as a blockchain peer-to-peer platform in 2017 and preyed on vulnerable investors amid a climate of heightened enthusiasm around blockchain technology.

The promoters of the scheme also used buzzwords used by the Chinese government in addressing and acknowledging the decentralized technology, claiming to be a “blockchain” and “big data” company with significant potential for growth. Other terms used include “Western Development”, “Poverty Alleviation” and “One Belt and One Road”, the report revealed.

After founding the online platform, the promoters established a five-tier hierarchy modeled after a rebate system wherein investments were solicited from new members in exchange for membership rebate programs. By buying into different member levels, investors were told they would see appropriate returns in shares and dividends of the purported blockchain P2P company.

Jinan police revealed that college students made for a considerable number of the victims participating in the scheme.

The case joins a growing list of takedowns by Chinese authorities narrowing down on fraudulent schemes pretending to be backed by cryptocurrency and/or blockchain technology. The mandate was laid down by China’s Ministry of Public Security earlier this year after detecting a large number of pyramid schemes across China.

In April, Chinese police in Xi’an, the capital city of the Shaanxi province in central China arrested the founders of  ‘DBTC’, a faux blockchain platform that amassed some 13,000 registered users who invested over RMBB0 million ($13 million) within a fortnight this year.

Last week, a two-year investigation into a massive multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme involving ‘Weika Coin’, Chinese for OneCoin, culminated in nearly 120 arrests and 98 prosecutions into an estimated $2.3 billion domestic OneCoin operation. The investigation and subsequent takedown was the largest MLM scheme ever seen in China’s Hunan province, investigators claimed.

As of this month, China’s OneCoin operation contained over 140 member levels and some2 million registered members. Authorities have so far recovered RMB1.7 billion yuan ($236 million) from the scheme.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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