5 arrested in connection with phony Chinese bank that cheated depositors out of $32 million

Associated Press

Chinese police say they have arrested five people in connection with a phony bank that used bogus offices and tellers to bilk depositors out of $32 million.

Police in the eastern city of Nanjing said Friday more than 200 customers were caught up in the scam. Most were business owners from the surrounding province of Jiangsu attracted by promises of high interest rates on deposits.

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Police said the scammers filled their offices with the accoutrements of a real state-owned bank, including uniformed staff. It said the scam's mastermind and four assistants were in custody, including one woman who had fled to the gambling enclave of Macau with the depositors' funds.

Low rates of return in the formal financial sector have prompted many Chinese to turn to unregulated alternatives.