Under the shadow of a Vancouver homicide, alleged pyramid scam expands globally under different names during pandemic

Chen Zhou

A mystical spiritual group outlawed by China and linked to an unsolved homicide in Vancouver was dormant for some time and is now operating under new identities around the world.

Almost two years ago, the Lower Mainland’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) announced the death of a Chinese 41-year-old woman, Bo Fan. She was killed in the Greater Vancouver area, Canada on June 24, 2020. There is no public information about anyone been arrested or charged in connection with Ms. Fan’s homicide.

Fan was in association with an organization called “Create Abundance” or “Golden Touch”, which has been identified as a pyramid scheme in China. The organization has also left many mysteries in Canada, including the women training in military uniform on Salt Spring Island.

“Elite Training” on Saltspring Island

IHIT received messages through their information line from anonymous persons about background information about the group, but they needed more people who can speak to them on the record and not anonymously through social media.

According to media reports, Fan appeared to be savagely beaten up, and her femur, the strongest bone in the human body, appeared to be “destroyed.” Fan’s brother and sister-in-law took her to Peace Arch Hospital, where she later died. The couple left Canada shortly after the homicide and the IHIT said they are not aware of anything that would impede their ability to travel internationally.

Several anonymous sources say Bo Fan’s younger brother Peng Fan and sister-in-law Fang Miao are also members of “Create Abundance”. Fang Miao ranks higher in the organization than Bo Fan. All of Bo Fan’s WeChat posts were related to this organization. 

Although IHIT reported that Ms. Fan was a citizen of China and had been in Canada since February of 2019, a Chinese-language article published on February 15, 2018, listed Ms. Fan as Golden Touch’s contact person in Vancouver and listed the clubhouse addresses: 16682 27th Ave, Surrey, BC V3S 9X1. This place is not far from where Fan was found with “extensive and serious” injuries that later caused her death. 

What was “Create Abundance” in China

As early as 2016, “Create Abundance” had been reported by Chinese state media, including the People’s Daily, as a pyramid scheme scam organization. The organization had set up more than 40 learning centres and clubs throughout China, with over 10,000 members and over 300 supervisors. 

Beijing News in China reported in 2016, that “Create Abundance” is a “physical and spiritual counselling agency” advocating “cosmic energy” that can create wealth and happiness. It preys on people with family or relationship problems, hosts events at luxury hotels, asks trainees to sell houses, overspend credit cards, and pay millions of dollars “in return for blessings”. Many trainees have reported the case to the police.

According to a witness statement in one of the verdicts on the official database of court rulings run by the Supreme People’s Court in China, “Create Abundance” compares its founder Xinyue Zhang to a god. It has six levels in total. The highest is the founder Xinyue Zhang. The next level is nine International Mentors, then Domestic Mentors, Principals of the Centres, Supervisions of the Centres, International Students and Learning Members. Another verdict shows that Xinyue Zhang has another name Dazhun Zhang.

Witness’s testimony in the verdict shows one should pay 50,000 yuan to get a learning card and become a Learning Member, and 1 million yuan to be an International Student. If you want to be a Principal and open your own centre, you need to pay 8 million yuan. If you want to become a Mentor, you need to pay 30 million yuan.

Supervisors in “Create Abundance” also make money by attracting more people to join the organization. If one person buys a 50,000 yuan learning card, the Supervisor can get a commission of 2,000–4,000 yuan (paid by his or her Mentor), the centre can get 10,000 yuan. Mentors will split 20,000 yuan while Xinyue Zhang can get 20,000 yuan herself.

According to public sources, several key members of the group have been arrested, including Hongxia Zhang, Yadong Li, Di Lin and Xinyue Zhang’s brother Dazhe Zhang.

The verdict shows Hongxia Zhang was arrested on July 12, 2016 due to organizing and leading pyramid selling activities. She was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined 200,000 yuan. She constructed the “Create Abundance” pyramid selling system in Shanxi Province, China.

“She successively held ‘Create Abundance’ classes and other forms of publicity activities. The promotion claims that the purchase of the study card will give people access to the ‘Enhanced Energy’. After the participants purchased the study card and joined the organization, the defendant, Hongxia Zhang, lured the participants to continue to pay fees to be promoted to “Supervisors”, because if “Supervisors” encourage others to participate in the organization, they can get rebates. Finally, the organizational structure of the centre principal, supervisors, international students and study card partners was formed. At present, the system has involved 46 people in Shanxi with a total amount of 12,301,096 yuan (around 2 million Canadian Dollars).”

According to another court verdict in Chongqing Province, China, Bo Fan, as the plaintiff, sued her landlord in 2017, demanding a refund of the deposit. The landlord took out photos, web page screenshots, newspaper screenshots and other evidence, proving that the plaintiff used the rented house to engage in the illegal activities of “Create Abundance”. However, the court decided that the evidence was not solid enough and ordered the landlord to return the deposit.

A list of “Create Abundance” victims who reported the crime to the police includes over 50 people from different regions in China. They claimed they had been defrauded of 133 million yuan in total, 2.46 million yuan on average.

Some members on the list sent an open letter, saying many people who joined Create Abundance had family or relationship problems and were seeking help. “Create Abundance” welcomed them with warm embraces and encouragement. “Xinyue Zhang is a Ph.D. of Psychology and translated life wisdom into colloquial, very touching and easy to understand.”

 However, after they gradually let down their guard, they found their time was completely occupied. “From the moment you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep, the system requires all principals or supervisors to quit their current jobs and devote themselves to the organization 24/7, claiming that if you do not fully dedicate yourself, you will not trust the system and you will not be able to get better.”

The letter then mentioned, “As a result, it is not until we begin to defend our rights that we find almost everyone in the system is in debt, family relationships are deteriorating, careers are in a mess. It is like waking up from a dream!”

“Create Abundance” changed its name and continually expanded after the homicide

Even after the homicide of Fan Bo came to the police’s attention in Canada, “Create Abundance” is still expanding and holding activities. On the Chinese language “Whatsapp” WeChat, members of “Create Abundance” continually promote activities and quotes from the founder, Xinyue Zhang.

Posters shared by those members show the organization rebranded itself into “The Global Spiritualists Association (TGSA)” and several other names, such as “Luxury Living Art Museum”, ” Golden Touch Elite Institute”, “Golden Lock”, “The Program of World Youth Leadership”, “Literary Elite”, “Solar Elite”. It creates a series of “Spiritual Growth” courses and frequently carries out events in some major cities in China, the United States, Canada, Malaysia, and other places during COVID-19.

“Create Abundance” Event

Their offline event venues are currently called “Luxury Living Art Museums”, each has a curator. Posters show their clubs locate in more than 40 cities in China and more than a dozen countries around the world.

They have feature classes including painting, yacht sailing, gun shooting and outdoor physical exercise in military uniform. They also have a website called “love meditation, love life” which holds free charity live broadcasts every day.

The mysterious “military training” on Salt Spring Island which aroused people’s attention and speculation is called “Solar Elite” or “the Program of World Youth Leadership”. In this program, students will attend feature classes such as yacht sailing, horsemanship, aristocratic etiquette, and gun shooting and outdoor physical exercise in military uniforms. Photos show teenagers and children also took part in the “military training”.

Photos show teenagers and children also took part in the “military training”

A Chinese language article showed Burnaby City Councilor James Baijin Wang, Richmond Education Board Member Ng Siew Leng, former Deputy Premier of British Columbia Richard T. Lee attending the launch ceremony of The Program of World Youth Leadership in 2018.

They also published advertisements under the name of “Feng Sheng International (L) Foundation” in Canada’s Sing Tao Daily and Ming Pao, calling for more people to join them in the name of public welfare. The logo of “The Global Spiritualists Association” can be seen clearly in the article’s accompanying picture. 

In the months after the homicide, the Create Abundance clubhouse in Surrey seemed quiet during the daytime, but neighbours said they still heard noises at night. They assume the organization is still operating under the radar.

“We can see vehicles come and go and garbage are full, we can see lights from their windows,” one neighbour who lives across the street said, he mentioned there is another “brown” house nearby that belongs to the Create Abundance, and “the house next to it can hear noises from the brown house at night even 4 in the morning.”

The “brown” house’s address is 2675 166a St, Surrey, BC V3S 9X1. On the front door, there is a sign showing it is the “Research Centre of Quantum Medicine” of “Create Abundance”. 

Research Centre of Quantum Medicine” of “Create Abundance”

“They are doing it quietly now, not as busy as before, they only come at night.” The couple living next to the “brown” house said, “before the homicide, they were crazy busy. Tour buses came and dropped off women, about 30 or 40 of them. They walked on the street and took selfies.”

Create Abundance has several clubhouses in Canada, including Surrey, Salt Spring Island and Toronto. Posters shared by members show that all of these places have recently started hosting events. One poster shows they will hold an event on Salt Spring Island from April 25 to 29, 2022, and the attendance fee is $10,000 USD for one person, an additional $1,000 USD is required for room and board. Clubhouses in Vancouver and Toronto now call themselves “Luxury Living Art Museums”, both held events from March 21 to 27, 2022.

Research Centre of Quantum Medicine” of “Create Abundance”

Unlike in China, “Create Abundance” has never been defined as an illegal organization in Canada.

Toronto resident George Deng said after his wife joined “Create Abundance” in 2018, their marriage was almost ruined. “After returning from a one-month training trip to the United States, she wanted to mortgage our house and invest more than one million Canadian dollars in the organization’s project, which she said would be her career for the rest of her life.”

“I was against it from the start, but to no avail,” Deng said, he once filed a pyramid scheme compliant with the York region police. “When the police came, they wouldn’t even look at the file I had prepared. They said they checked, MLM (Multilevel Marketing) is legal in Canada. They can’t do anything.”

When being questioned, the “Create Abundance” contact person on Wechat said, “no explanation. It’s okay. You can write whatever you want. (You have) freedom of speech.”