Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Meet Wang Zhendong, the Ken Lay of antfarming

Posted by Charles II on January 13, 2008

Kent Ewing. Asia Times

A well-known entrepreneur in northeastern Liaoning province (apparently the center for such Ponzi schemes) convinced more than a million people – mostly farmers, retirees and the unemployed – to invest their savings in an ant-breeding venture that has left many of them penniless. The scheme – run by the Yilishen Tianxi Group, chaired by Wang Fengyou – worked like this: a 10,000 yuan (US$1,375) deposit bought investors a box of ants, which they were then required to provide with food and water until death – that’s 90 days after birth for the average ant. A representative of Yilishen would then collect the ant corpses and take them to one of the firm’s factories, where they were used to produce health products that could allegedly cure anything from arthritis to impotence.

Investors were guaranteed a profit of US$447 after only 14 months and an annual rate of return as high as 32.5%. The scam may seem impossible outside China, where ant products are largely unheard of, but within the country ants are believed to carry healing properties that can increase physical stamina, prolong youth, heighten immunity and increase sexual potency. So, to the greedy and the ignorant, the scheme appeared to be a good bet….

Wang’s ant-breeding scheme had been running for eight years before it collapsed, and no one in officialdom bothered to call him out – not even after the mastermind of an almost identical scheme was sentenced to death last year in a Liaoning court. Wang Zhendong was found guilty of duping more than 10,000 “ant farmers” out of $390 million between 2002 and 2004 with the promise of a return of up to 60% on their investment. During that same period, police in Liaoning say, they shut down 16 companies engaged in fraudulent schemes involving nearly $1.4 billion.

Just think what Wang could have done with a utility company.

7 Responses to “Meet Wang Zhendong, the Ken Lay of antfarming”

  1. Michael said

    Interesting health claim, though, independent of the ponzi nature. I have a water distiller and think that’s probably the greatest investment in personal health care anyone can make, but there are a lot of people who profit on selling crappy purifiers at high prices to people who don’t know better.

  2. Charles said

    If you want better water, better pass it through activated charcoal, Michael. Distillers can actually concentrate volatile organic compounds.

    Distillation does, however, do an excellent job of removing minerals. I don’t think most city water contains toxic minerals, though well water can.

  3. Michael said

    It’s better to do both, perhaps. My distiller is a Kenmore unit and it has a compartment for activated charcoal.

  4. Michael said

    Also it vents the volatiles pretty well but the fan is noisy.

  5. Charles said

    I don’t think volatiles evaporate particularly well, at least at the concentrations found in water. They tend to co-distill. But as long as you’re aware of the issue.

  6. Michael said

    The way it works is you heat the water gradually and what boils off at lower temperatures than the boiling point of water gets vented. When the water is at the correct boiling temperature the distillation should proceed until the temperature rises above that level, at which point the unit shuts off, leaving some fluid and solid waste behind neither which looks very nice to drink.

    It’s really not badly designed.

  7. Michael said

    Fortunately I don’t think my water supply has Agent Orange in it, but I wouldn’t trust my home distiller to remove that kind of toxin.

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