Friday, February 16, 2007

If you are grifting in China, you might want to pack your bags.

If you've read about the old cons based on tulip speculation or postal reply coupons and thought that they were quaint remnants of a bygone age, you might want to reconsider. Wang Zhendong appears to have broken some new ground with his ant-based scam. Apparently tea and/or liquor tinctures made from ants are a popular home remedy in parts of china, and our friend Wang (or is it our friend Zhendong? I always get those confused) convinced over 10,000 people that they could make BIG MONEY by raising their own ants for resale, and he was all too happy to sell them the supplies necessary to do so at an obscene markup. The take? A whopping 3 billion yuan ($387 million)! That, my friends, is a shitload of ants.

All is not well for Wang Zhendong, however. The Chinese government caught up with him and his associates and discovered that the whole operation was a sham. While the lackeys have been sentenced to terms ranging from 5-10 years and fined sums between $10K and $75K, our man Wang didn't get off so light. The Chinese government sentenced him to death.