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Swindlers get away with 3 million yuan
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-11 09:16

ZHUHAI: It is obviously a chilly winter for Wang Jinglun, the owner of a local food trading company. He was shocked to learn that Deng Bowen and Zhang Xiuzhi, a couple who duped him of more than 3 million yuan (US$360,000), fled to Canada last month.

What is worse is that his loan receipt only accounts for 1 per cent of the total scam involving over 300 million yuan (US$36 million).

According to Wang, a Macao businessman surnamed Jiang lost nearly 46 million yuan (US$5.56 million) and a Zhuhai merchant lost 29 million yuan (US$3.51 million). Victims from other places in China have continued to report losses to the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau since the case was revealed a few days ago.

Starting in business in Zhuhai in 1998, the couple in their 40s from Central China's Hunan Province, were running a large-scale tobacco company.

The reason that the victims took the bait is because the couple claimed to be adopted children of a female relative of a senior national official in Beijing and showed photos taken with her wherever they went, said Zhuang Zhihao, who took the bait and has suffered a loss of 29 million yuan (US$3.51 million).

The couple had opened a pawn company in a month, for which business it is hard to get a licence for ordinary business people in Zhuhai.

Their strong background with the tobacco company was another proof that convinced many lenders, Wang said.

The couple allegedly obtained extra quotas of tobacco, which is a State monopoly in China, from their alleged adoptive mother and then distributed it to other places through their company.

Deng and Zhang collected money from private sectors at a high interest rate to expand their booming tobacco business. By using one lender's money to pay another and paying interests from profit made from their tobacco business, the snowball kept growing.

But the link was broken when their privilege in the tobacco business was prohibited in early 2004 for unknown reasons and they failed to get enough working capital, Wang said.

Therefore, being unable to afford high interest, the couple began to plot the scam, promising even 20 per cent to 30 per cent interest rates to lenders.

Wang said that last July, Deng and Zhang had deceived him about planning a big power plant in Hunan Province, which needed an investment of 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion).

The couple said their bank required 3 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion). Wang then loaned them nearly 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million).

"I trusted them because they had prepared government confidential documents," said Wang. "Even now, I couldn't figure out if their plan was a fraud and how could they make fake documents so real."

"I have a small business. Even if I had asked for my 7 million yuan (US$850,000) back before they fled, the loss would have pushed my company into a serious situation," said Wang,

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