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Suspect arrested in 11 million-yuan ripoff scheme after 3 years on run

A suspect, after being at large overseas for three years, has been arrested by police on charges of taking money from victims seeking investment income.

The suspect, Shi Ping, a 50-year-old Beijing native, registered at an investment company in Shanghai in April 2010 and was among five suspects who took deposits of 11 million yuan (US$1.76 million) in half a year from more than 100 victims, promising a monthly interest of up to 15 percent, Huangpu District police said today.

They called it the largest case of illegally taking deposits from the public in recent years.

Shi told police he was collecting money for a real estate company registered in Tianjin, and the owner promised him a 3 percent commission. However, Shi failed to pay the promised interest on time to his investors, who reported the scheme to police.

After the start of the investigation, Shi fled to Singapore in May 2011 and since then lived in Southeast Asian countries. Seeking a lenient punishment, he turned himself in to police last month. Shi is on bail pending his trial.

Shi’s 80-year-old mother and a younger brother in Beijing were approached by Shanghai police and helped persuade Shi to cooperate with the investigation over the past three years.

After arriving in Shanghai from Cambodia on May 30, Shi told police that he was introduced to the Tianjin real estate company owner through a friend. After the owner’s introduction of a property project under construction in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, Shi registered as an investment company in Shanghai and called together four other people to collect money from the public.

They raised a total of 11 million yuan in six months from over 100 individuals, attracting them with a promise of monthly interest of 5 percent to 15 percent. Shi told police that the Tianjin owner returned only 200,000 yuan total, and he evaded the debts and police investigation by living in Hong Kong and Macau, then later in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia for three years.

“I had been working part time and started some small business in the countries, but was generally in a bad financial situation,” Shi told Shanghai Daily on Monday.

“The climate, language and local diseases were also problems. My mother’s health condition was also a concern,” Shi said.

Wang Hua, an officer with the economic crimes division of Huangpu District police, told Shanghai Daily that he had been sending short service messages to Shi, as well as his mother and brother in Beijing since 2011, and persuaded him to cooperate for a lenient punishment. Shi provided information about the Tianjin company owner to police, but only decided to come back to China last month.

Wang, who was in charge of the case, said the Tianjin company owner illegally accepted public deposits from seven cities including Shanghai and Shenzhen. He has already been arrested. The clues provided by Shi helped complete the investigation, he said.

Shanghai police have arrested a total of 13 suspects this year who had fled to overseas countries to evade criminal investigation. According to a notice from the central government issued in 2011, all suspects who voluntarily surrendered themselves to police and confessed their crimes would receive a lenient punishment. Some suspects remain out of the country.


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