In April, four village banks in Henan province froze depositors’ bank accounts for no reason, leading to a large-scale protest. The banking crisis involves more than 400,000 people, which reportedly totals 40 billion yuan or $5.83 billion.

Under heavy pressure, officials yielded, promising to pay back customers in stages. By the end of August, an official announcement said that they had completed the advance payment. Two weeks passed, and now an elderly couple posted a video showing their situation. They never got back a penny of their hard-earned money.

Poor couple

On September 14, a video of a couple in their 70s asking authorities for their hard-earned money was posted on mainland social media.

In the video, an elderly woman sits in a run-down house with her ID card in her hand, crying and yelling at her husband, who is filming the scene.

The husband said that the couple had worked hard their whole lives. They put their money in the Xinminsheng Village Bank in Yuzhou, Henan. 

The bank is one of the four Henan rural banks that blew up this April. The old man can be heard in the video, “It’s been six months,” which suggests that the video may have been filmed recently.

From what they say, the couple may not have any children, and the money they deposited in the bank is from their pension.

In the video, the older gentleman didn’t say how much the deposit was. Online news said that the man put down a total of 800,000 yuan, or more than $116,000, but it is unclear if this is true.

The man said that his wife had a heart attack a few days ago and was hospitalized. But he had to go home because he couldn’t pay the several hundred yuan a day that the hospital charged. He said that the family doesn’t have any money anymore and that they pick up trash to make a living.

His wife cried in the video, “How can I live?”

Henan advance payment problems

Starting on July 15, people who put down up to 50,000 yuan ($7,400) will get their money back first. The rest with higher deposits will be paid back later.

On the first day that deposits were paid back, some official media said that more than 100 people had received their deposits early. But many unofficial news sources said that when a lot of people tried to get advance payments online, they were turned down. The reasons make no sense, “wrong user name,” “wrong ID number,” to “wrong product amount.” The upload of someone’s ID photo didn’t work. Some netizens have dubbed the so-called “advance payment” a scam.

Afterward an official sent out different groups of early warnings one after the other. But it’s hard to find reports about whether customers have received their money, and reporting on related information has been restricted.

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