WeChat Pay advertisements hang from the ceiling at a supermarket in East China's Hangzhou city. LONG WEI/CHINA DAILY
In 2013, a company that sold self-made coins based on the "five elements" of feng shui to its customers at 5,000 yuan (5) a piece and offered a percentage to those who sold the coins to other people was charged by the Ministry of Public Security with illegal pyramid selling, and 33 of the organizers were detained or arrested. However, a recent online video shows the organization is still alive, even expanding. Thepaper.cn comments:
Reports show that the pyramid selling organization came back to life with the help of social media chat groups.
Those doing illegal pyramid selling can expand with unprecedented efficiency and attract large numbers of new members within a very short time by micro-marketing using social media platforms such as WeChat.
Worse, this makes it even more difficult for the police to catch them. Traditionally, pyramid selling groups would shut their members in a certain place and effectively brainwash them. The police could strike by finding these places. Now the pyramid sellers can brainwash their victims online and the organizers can hide their identities. That makes it even more difficult for the police to catch them.
Many of the victims of such online pyramid selling schemes are senior citizens who lack the ability to distinguish information online. A typical example is the above-mentioned coins. On Saturday, a China Central Television report revealed the whole process and many senior citizens watched the report. But some pyramid selling organizers continued cheating in their WeChat groups by saying that the government supports the coins and the report was fake.
It is time for the authorities to take more effective measures. As the illegal pyramid selling organizers go online, the police should go online, too, so as to track down the gang leaders. More importantly, transparency should be further promoted so that people will more easily get to know the names of the pyramid selling organizations. Only with the joint efforts of all will such illegal pyramid selling be curbed.