Anger from peer-to-peer (P2P) investors in China has continued to simmer as the number who have lost their hard-earned money in fraudulent or failed lending platforms continues to climb.
Many of these common citizens, who invested because of promises of double-digit returns, saw their life savings wiped out. And in seeking to appeal their cases to the central government, which allowed the platforms to grow with scant oversight, they have been repeatedly silenced.
Some decided to share their stories with the Chinese-language version of The Epoch Times, which are translated below.
Losing Her Life Savings
A woman who identified herself as Ms. Peng, 39, grew up in a poor family. In 1996, when she was 16, she worked in a factory in Shenzhen City, a metropolis in the southern province far away from home.
At age 16, a work accident led to her right hand being mangled so badly in a machine that her five fingers had to be amputated.
“I was just a young girl. I didn’t want to live anymore,” she said. “But I comforted myself that there were people who had it worse than me. I have to be strong and live on. So, I decided to learn sewing.”
She became a part-time worker at a clothing factory in the country of Panyu located in Guangzhou City, the capital of the province. By 2012, she stopped her part-time work and set up her own sewing stall, often on the roadside or in a shopping mall in Guangzhou.
In December 2016, one of her customers recommended that she invest in a P2P lending platform called Renren Aijia. She began to place her income into the platform, like depositing money in the bank. She has invested a total of 47,000 yuan ($6,810).
Her husband is a part-time worker in Guangzhou City with limited income. Their son and daughter are still in school, with tuition costs of 10,000 yuan ($1,450) per semester. In addition, Peng’s father-in-law is disabled and is hospitalized long-term.
She repeatedly said that she wanted her story to be reported in the hopes that other people won’t be cheated like her.
Losing Her Family’s Savings
“I really don’t want to live anymore. I am in my 40s and my hair is completely white. I don’t want to eat,” another woman, named Ms. Liu, said. She has invested in six P2P platforms and lost all her money. She desperately cried when she was telling her story. “I have been lying in bed for several days. I wish I could jump from a building and end everything.”
Ms. Liu’s husband was unexpectedly hospitalized following a stroke in February last year and is now paralyzed and bedridden. With a mother-in-law in her 80s at home, Ms. Liu quit her job to take care of her husband and mother-in-law.
She started to invest in P2P platforms in January after her husband’s friend recommended it to her. She has invested more than 400,000 yuan ($57,980), including 100,000 yuan ($14,490) from compensation fees given by her husband’s employer for his illness and 300,000 yuan ($43,480) from a sister who lives abroad, money which had been meant for treating their father’s prostate cancer and future funeral expenses.
She didn’t tell her family that she had invested the money, and doesn’t dare tell them that she has lost it all. Now, she pays for her living expenses by overdrawing her credit card.
“I applied for a credit card to borrow money,” she said. “I don’t dare to tell my family about it … because they might get so angry and shocked that their health will deteriorate.”
No More Money for Cancer Treatment
A man named Mr. Gao, of Heze City, Shandong Province, is a civil servant within the township government. He started to invest in several P2P platforms from March last year.
Last October, he sold a house for 540,000 yuan ($78,270), but subsequently was diagnosed with a nasopharyngeal malignant lymphoma. He used part of the money from the sale of the house to treat his illness, then placed the rest in investments, steering more than 400,000 yuan ($57,980) to P2P platforms.
However, the P2P platform bosses fled in July, leaving him in a life-threatening situation.
He is being treated at a traditional medicine facility and a cancer hospital in Shandong to prevent the disease from worsening.
“There are chemotherapy drugs in the treatment plan that are not covered by medical insurance,” he said. “I’ve been spending more than 100,000 yuan ($14,500). I am still in treatment.”
With the collapse of the P2P platforms, paying his medical bills—a few thousand yuan each month —will be a challenge.
“I don’t want to give up treatment. I am still young after all, around 50 years old,” he said.
Epoch Times staff member Gu Xiaohua contributed to this report.