Jewish People’s Wisdom Network

Foreign Policy has a brief article on the ‘Jewish People’s Wisdom Network’ ponzi scheme that appeared, picked up over $7.4 billion of Chinese citizens’ money, and then disappeared.

What is interesting is how the ponzi scheme capitalized on the ‘stereotype’ that Jews are good with money. I would imagine Chinese citizens don’t encounter many Jews in their day-to-day existence, nor is there much of a Jewish influence upon Chinese society. So, your average Chinese citizen is getting his or her notions of what Jewish people are like through the internet, movies, and (I would surmise) Chinese literature.

Stereotypes, I am wont to repeatedly say, do not exist in a vacuum.

China’s transition into a market economy — at times lightly regulated and often marked with corrupt governance — has bred an uncountable number of hucksters and tricksters, from those selling fake tea, poisonous pork, or misplaced copper to people like Wang Zhendong, executed in 2008 for swindling $416 million from thousands of investors with a get-rich-quick ant breeding scheme. But perhaps none have been weirder than the Jewish People’s Wisdom Network, an organization that, for at least several months from 2008 to 2009, played off Chinese people’s widely held belief that Jews possess a vast and knowable body of knowledge that helps people get rich quickly…

Vanishingly little is known about the Jewish People’s Wisdom Network. Technically, it appears to have been some sort of multi-level marketing organization, which compensates salespeople for recruiting others into the organization.

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