Mar 27, 2018 04:45 AM

Family Sues Website Operator Over Deadly Job-Recruiting Scam

After a high-profile death linked to its popular website, Boss Zhipin pledged to implement a better system of reviewing help-wanted ads. Photo: IC
After a high-profile death linked to its popular website, Boss Zhipin pledged to implement a better system of reviewing help-wanted ads. Photo: IC

Li Wenxing left home for a job, but instead ended up drowned in a pond. Now his family is suing the popular job-recruiting website that posted the bogus help-wanted ad that led the college graduate on his fatal journey.

The Li family is seeking 2.3 million yuan ($366,800) from the operator of Boss Zhipin, one of China’s biggest help-wanted sites, accusing it of negligence in not verifying the ad.

“We demand Boss Zhipin bear legal responsibility,” Pang Lipeng, a lawyer at Beijing Lanpeng Law Firm who represents Li’s family, told Caixin.

The Beijing Chaoyang District Court accepted the case on Monday, sources close to the matter told Caixin.

Li’s body was found in a pond in the northern port city of Tianjin last July. Police officials said he was lured into a pyramid sales scheme after replying to a bogus job-recruitment posting for a Beijing software company on Boss Zhipin. Scammers had posted the ad, police said.

Tricked, Li traveled to rural Tianjin, where he was put in a dormitory controlled by members of the pyramid sales scheme known as Diebeilei. Such scams, which took off in the 1990s, raise money primarily through joining fees and sometimes use brainwashing and illegal detention to prevent members from leaving. Li later paid an unspecified sum to sign up, police said.

Five suspects were detained on charges of illegally detaining him. Tianjin police concluded in October that Li drowned accidentally.

Li’s death, among several similar cases in which job applicants died after responding to bogus ads, sparked public uproar and a regulatory crackdown on pyramid sales networks. 

Authorities tightened the screws on job recruitment websites. Under a policy issued in August, a website operator must make sure each advertiser has a business license before it is allowed to post job ads.

If a website operator lets an unlicensed company post material as part of a help-wanted scam, it can be shut down. The operator may also face criminal charges if job seekers have their personal rights violated or suffer losses after responding to posted job offers, under the new policy.

After Li’s death, internet regulators launched an investigation into Boss Zhipin that led to the website being rapped for failing to verify the identity of advertisers on its platform. In August, Boss Zhipin acknowledged its role in the case and pledged to implement a better review system aimed at weeding out scammers.

Li Wenyue, sister of Li Wenxing, said the company never offered the family any compensation.

An employee at Boss Zhipin said the company hasn’t yet received notice from the court.

Contact reporter Han Wei (

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