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How China’s Peer-to-Peer Lending Crash Is Destroying Lives

Hundreds of platforms have collapsed, and many savers can’t get their money back.

Investors in Chinese online peer-to-peer lending platform PPMiao protest in Shanghai on Aug. 20, 2018. 

Investors in Chinese online peer-to-peer lending platform PPMiao protest in Shanghai on Aug. 20, 2018. 

Photographer: Aly Song/Reuters

“I am too small to fight them,” a 31-year-old woman from Zhejiang province, China, wrote in a note to her parents in early September after losing almost $40,000 when an online peer-to-peer lending firm went bust. “A state-backed P2P just ran away, its shareholder unwilling to take any responsibility, investigators are dragging their feet. I am too tired and cannot see any hope.” The woman then hanged herself. Her death and her letter were chronicled in chat group posts on the social media site Weibo.

Hundreds of others who say they were victims of the same company, PPMiao, came to Shanghai to protest in late August, only to be turned back by police and security guards outside the International Finance Centre, where a firm connected to the lender has an office. “We lost everything, and I have tuition coming due for my 3-year-old son’s kindergarten next month,” said one man, who gave his name only as Chen before being put on a police bus and sent home to his farm in Jiangxi province, 14 hours away by train.