Young graduate found dead in puddle after meeting with dubious pyramid scheme

A murky case is building around the death of a young college graduate who was found dead in a puddle, with notes about a dodgy gang found amongst his belongings.

Tianjin police are now looking into the case relating to the death of Li Wenxing, a college graduate and job seeker who was allegedly lured into a pyramid scheme scam disguised as a recruitment opportunity, thepaper.cn reported.

Li, a graduate of Northeastern University, was found drowned in a pond on July 14 in Tianjin’s Jinghai District, a place noted for rampant fake recruiters. Some online reports claim that Li's death is possibly connected to a pyramid scheme gang called "Die Bei Lei" (Butterfly Bud), which was already smashed by Jinghai police last month. These new allegations are still awaiting response from police.

An announcement released by Jinghai police on July 7 stated that seven major members of "Die Bei Lei" had been arrested, while another 25 gang members were detained. Hundreds of participants were sent back to their hometowns and more than a million yuan (US$148,827) in illicit funds was seized or frozen by police.

The pond in Jinghai District in Tianjin City where Li Wenxing is found drowned.

Police said these groups lured people from other provinces to their sites by offering fake job or business opportunities, or by asking them to meet a net friend. After arrival, the victims were pressured to join the pyramid scheme and pay for the membership. If there was some resistance, the gang members would threaten, constrain and beat them until they agreed. The network has over 7,000 participants across the country, as well as 1,600-plus core members in Jinghai and its neighboring areas.

According to a Beijing News report referring to the police investigation, a note recording pyramid scheme issues found in Li's belongings represents a high possibility that Li was led astray by the scheme.

The newspaper, which interviewed Li's schoolmates, reported that Li once mentioned that he got a job offer from recruiting website zhipin.com, and that he would set off to take the job in Tianjin. However, Li treated them very indifferently after that and contacted them to borrow money several times. Li also borrowed money from his family but on the night of July 8, he made a call to his mother and told them never to give money to anyone who might call.

Li was described as a person who was reluctant to bring trouble to others and almost never borrowed money from his friends or family.

The website Zhipin also declared that they had saved data relating to Li and would cooperate with police in the investigation.


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