Hundreds of unsuspecting bank customers in China have been swindled out of more than $40 million after alleged thieves operated a fake bank for more than 12 months.
Around 200 people deposited money at what they thought was a state-owned bank near the eastern city of Nanjing throughout last year, the BBC reports.
The customers were deceived into handing over their cash by people dressed as bank tellers who promised them two percent interest on their investments.
One customer, believed to be a wealthy businessman, reportedly deposited more than $2.3 million with the sham bank.
It was only when the bank failed to deliver on its two percent interest promise that customers became suspicious.
A number of customers phoned the police when their attempts to withdraw their money from the bank were denied.
A police investigation found the bank did not have the right permits to operate as a legal financial institution and was in fact a rural cooperative.
The fact that the alleged thieves could operate the bank for more than a year angered users of China's social network Weibo.
"More than a year, it looks like the authorities have gone blind," the BBC quoted one Weibo user as posting.
Five people have been arrested over the scam, including a woman who reportedly fled with the customers' money to China's gambling capital, Macau.