Man's Online “Girlfriend” Turns Out To Be Part of a Pyramid Scheme

Illustration for article titled Man's Online “Girlfriend” Turns Out To Be Part of a Pyramid Scheme
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In this day and age of technology and the internet, online dating is becoming more and more "normal." Unfortunately, every now and again online relationships tend cause problems with one party being untruthful to the other. Well, for one Chinese man, his digital girlfriend turned out to be more than just a scammer.


Originally reported by Henan Health Daily, Li Rui, a college student at Zhengzhou University of Technology in Henan province, fell in love with a "woman" named Zhou Xuan online. Li wanted to visit the woman so he took time off from his school work to visit her in Yongzhou, Hunan province.

When Li got to the appointed meeting place, he met Zhou. Despite not looking exactly like her picture, Li went with Zhou to her home. Zhou said they couldn't stay at her own home because of repairs so they had to stay in a rental place, which was a small room filled with tatami mats. There were seven-eight men there playing cards. Zhou and Li joined them, and that's where things got weird.

Li was separated from Zhou, and after that night of playing cards, Li would never see his "girlfriend" again. The next day, after staying for the night, Li was forced to listen to lectures about marketing and sales. Li was also forced to play "games". The nature of the games that Li was forced to play is unknown, except that Li would constantly lose.

Unhappy and desperately wanting to see his lady friend, Li looked for an escape. The doors were locked, the windows were covered in mesh. There was no way out. Li had effectively been abducted.

Pyramid schemes are usually schemes that are created to make money by siphoning members.While pyramid schemes are pretty much the same everywhere in the world (I once applied for a job with Vector marketing!), they're very different in China. In China, new members of pyramid schemes are often locked away in para-military style camps where they are "brainwashed" and indoctrinated with the "company" model. These detainment style camps are very much illegal and the Chinese government is constantly cracking down on them.

Li was detained by the organization and kept for a total of six days inside the cult-like company. Li was forced to borrow money from friends and family and to bring more friends into the company. Li ended up gathering $4895. Finding it strange that their son needed so much money, Li's parents called the police.


After two and a half months of being trapped against his will, Li was finally saved after he local Yongzhou security bureau followed up on complaints against the company. Li was taken to a rescue shelter. And, despite being trapped, Li's luck seemed to only get worse, as he was also expelled from school — for truancy.

Luckily for Li, he was able to get police to write a note saying he was being detained against his will, and so far, it seems that he will be allowed back into school. This time, he'll hopefully be a bit wiser.


[大学生网恋身陷传销组织 获救后被学校开除][Henan Health via Phoenix Online]

Top Photo: Blazej Lyjak| Shutterstock

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian Internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.


Eric is Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.


Heh, online dating. Tried it once, swore never to start a relationship online again. More trouble than it's worth - particularly in the case of poor Li here.