The scale of the fraud is breathtaking. Around 900,000 individual investors have collectively been bilked out of US$7.6 billion, according to Chinese officials, in one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever conceived.
While the total money involved is less than the infamous Madoff Ponzi scheme the number of people involved is far greater. Ezubao, until a couple of months ago one of the top 10 largest P2P lending platforms in China, has been shut down and 21 executives have been arrested. Even though Ezubao only launched in July, 2014 it quickly grew, attracting hundreds of thousands of investors with promises of 9-15% returns.
It has been reported that an estimated 95% of all borrower listings on Ezubao were fraudulent. Meanwhile the top executives used investor money to enrich themselves – spending on items and gifts including real estate, cars and luxury goods, according to the Xinhua news agency.