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22 Aug, 2019 10:40

UN-believable: Investors swindled out of $280k over ‘United Nations HQ moving to China’ scam

UN-believable: Investors swindled out of $280k over ‘United Nations HQ moving to China’ scam

A gaggle of audacious con artists has been arrested in China for swindling investors out of US$283,000, claiming they were the construction company behind the ambitious (but fake) relocation of the UN headquarters to Xi’an.

The squad of scammers were caught trying to dupe investors into believing the UN was relocating its headquarters from New York to a 200-square-kilometer site near Xi’an’s ancient Yongning Gate, roughly 2,800 times the size of its current New York headquarters. 

The fraudsters operated under the name ‘Xi’an Hepingyuan Construction Management Company’ and spread rumors online for months about an impending UN move to Xi’an, reportedly including headlines such as “Putin strongly requested to relocate UN headquarters to Xian.”

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Potential investors were invited to meetings at the company’s lavish headquarters where they met with ‘employee’ Wu Yi, who claimed to be the ‘president’ of the UN, complete with his own emperor jade seal and sceptre. 

The ‘UN president’ then wooed them with forged bank and UN documents claiming to have 9.9 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in seed capital already collected. One local resident, identified only as Deng, invested 30,000 yuan and tried to convince her skeptical son to get on board, before he raised the alarm with police.

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Some 38 gang members were arrested in June following a three-month investigation, Xi’an police announced last week. Ten suspects were released after so-called “criticism and education” while another was granted bail. The remaining 27 are still in custody. 

Police believe the gang cheated between 29 and 70 investors out of their money, roughly 2 million yuan (US$283,000), before they were arrested. 

Authorities are in the process of freezing the bank accounts, according to officer Wang Yang, who said the money would be returned to the defrauded investors as soon as it was accounted for.

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