(ECNS) -- China's Ministry of Public Security has warned citizens to watch out for fraud in the guise of "unfreezing national assets," after police in Tianjin, Beijing and Guangxi busted a gang and nabbed 44 suspects.
The gang called "Cishan Fumin Zongbu," literally "charity making people rich headquarters," circulated a rumor online, saying it was recruiting participants for the purpose of "unfreezing national assets" and would hold a launching ceremony at Beijing's Bird's Nest, the national stadium. Participants were promised 50,000 yuan ($7,252) in cash after paying a membership fee of 10 yuan.
Chen Yuying, who sent the message via popular social networking app WeChat in April, collected more than 900,000 yuan from 93,000 people, and then transferred the money to a designated bank account. On April 26, Yang Huaxing, the owner of the bank account, was also arrested.
Yang confessed to the police, including details of the 900,000 yuan and information on three accomplices – Yang Changyu, Yang Zheng'ai and He Lihui. On May 12, Yang Zheng'ai was captured in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, while Yang Changyu and He Lihui surrendered to police on May 14.
Chen was introduced to the gang by Zhang Nanjin in July of 2016. After Zhang was arrested for fraud a month later, Chen created his own organization and continued to engage in fraud by collecting membership and activity fees from innocent participants under the cover of "unfreezing national assets."
The gang generated lies regarding great fortunes left on the Chinese mainland and abroad following the collapse of dynasties throughout history and after the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan island, saying the government had entrusted some NGOs and enterprises to unfreeze these "national assets". It lured victims by promising them lucrative returns after the "assets" were unfrozen.
According to a CCTV report, many middle-aged and senior victims from across the country gathered around the Bird's Nest, refusing to believe they had fallen victim to fraudulent behavior and insisting on staying where they were until the promised "launching ceremony" began.