A Ponzi scam victim’s ordeal
By CGTN's Han Peng
A string of deaths of job-seeking university graduates in China sparked widespread anger over the rise in numbers of criminal gangs trapping people into pyramid scheme
Li Wenxing, a 23-year-old graduate, was found dead in Tianjin in July after being caught by a group for 11 days.
Two more deaths were reported in August.
A victim, who got into a pyramid scheme and survived, has agreed to speak about her ordeal in an interview with CGTN. 
Li Wenxing, a victim of the pyramid scheme. /Caijing.com Photo 

Li Wenxing, a victim of the pyramid scheme. /Caijing.com Photo 

After they trapped her, 22-year-old university graduate Susu (alias) threatened to commit suicide.
"So I told them, if you don’t let me out, I will kill myself right here in front of you", she said.
Her classmates were included in the gang. As she was kept in illegal confinement, she started to think about committing suicide after a few days. 
Local police arrested the gang on the eighth day, and she got freed.
"One of my classmates told about a car sales job in a 4S shop in Langfang, a city neighboring Beijing, with food and accommodation provided, and asked me if I was interested. I agreed", Susu said.
She said she trusted her friend because she had known her for several years.
Susu was enthusiastic about getting a job, so took a train to Langfang. Her classmate was waiting for her at the station.
"When I reached there, it was already dark. My classmate came with another woman, who claimed to be her boss. The woman told me that we were going to a dorm. We took a taxi. I felt we were getting further and further away from city center", Susu said.
They arrived at a dilapidated house surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.
"A man opened the gate for us. As I stepped in, they slammed the door and locked it. I started to get worried", she said, adding that the man at the house took her cell phone away.
"I asked him to give my phone back, but he denied asking me to sleep. He was yelling at me. I started crying. I realized I got trapped in a pyramid scheme." 
The puddle where Li  Wenxing's body was found. / Caijing.com Photo

The puddle where Li  Wenxing's body was found. / Caijing.com Photo

Susu said she spent the whole night crying. The next morning began the brainwash.
"They kept telling me that after two years working with them, I would get 3.6 million yuan (around 600,000 US dollars). All I had to do was to recruit two more members, who would each recruit another two members, and I would get rich without doing anything", Susu told CGTN.
They told her that she had to pay 3,000 yuan (about 400 US dollar) to get an entry into the scheme.
"I knew it was sheer nonsense, but I didn't dare question them as I feared they would beat me", Susu said.
There were about ten people under confinement. They threatened them with violence and were not allowed to take a shower before they agree to cooperate.
"Who could bear such an agony?" Susu questioned, saying, "You only had two choices, to cheat others or to die. If you choose to cheat, you can only do it to the people who trust you. I would rather die than cheat my friends and families." 
Some media reports describe such scams as zombie-like crimes – an innocent victim is turned into a cheater.
Susu told CGTN that she was still not sure whether her classmate was cheating her for survival or was brainwashed."
She had recently turned down an invitation to visit a close friend, saying she had lost trust in people.
"Even if it was my mother, I would still think twice", she said.