OFF INTO THE WILD WET YONDER How does this...
Knockoff designer handbags and iPhones? Child’s play for a ring of fraudsters who decided to kick it up a notch (or three) by setting up a fake bank near the city of Nanjing, in eastern China. Yes, a fake bank.
Perhaps most shocking is that this wasn’t exactly a fly-by-night scam. Rather, the bank had been in operation for over a year (unbeknownst or otherwise to authorities), and took in an approximate 200 million yuan (US$32 million) from “customers” within that time.
Designed to look like a typical state-owned bank, right down to the counter design, LED displays, and staff uniforms, interest rates of 2% per week and high-interest subsidies failed to arouse initial concern as it is not completely unheard of in China. However, depositors eventually became suspicious after failing to see any interest earned on their money.
What finally kicked things off was a man who deposited a staggering US$1.9 million but soon after was not allowed to withdraw his savings when he confronted the bank about lack of payment on interest earned. He went to the police and, as a result, five people have so far been arrested.
There has been no confirmation on how much, if any, money was recovered and returned to the victims.
When it comes to your hard-earned cheddar, this is certainly a good reminder to play it safe in China. Anywhere for that matter, but especially so in China. It is generally best to stick to well-known banks that operate nationwide. As well, stay alert for counterfeit bill scams, and definitely avoid sketchy-looking ATMs.