The earliest mention of American Mining was not in China, but in the US. A poster "Harryyu" posted a wanted ad in Southern California about "seeking USFIA sales rep for gemstone mining" dated 06-SEP-2013.
The earliest mention in China was a forum post in February 9th, 2014, where Mr. Ho Peng 候鵬 (surname is "Ho") made a big presentation in Qingdao, Shangdong province, China. You are welcome to Google translate the link, but I'll give you the TL;DR version: Ho held a big meeting in the local 5-star hotel called Le Meridien ( 青岛万达艾美酒店) where Mr. Ho presented to a packed house full of MLMers from all over China for two hours. Ho claimed he had been in various MLM things for two years, and made over 20 million RMB and this American Mining will be the biggest next thing, and he had already made millions in this one, and he guarantees this is a sure win. Ho kept talking about his "aunt" 姨媽 from Guizhou 貴州, who's a local fortune teller and told him he will make tens of millions. Everybody can believe this fortune.
Alleged insider claimed that Ho is the local Judas Goat and may be part owner. He was shifting money out of the country and already got a divorce to emigrate. He had to make "one last job" before disappearing from China. Another accused Ho Peng of swindling people using his aunt's name.
|Ho Peng, in Macao 22-APR-2014, promoting USFIA|
I won't bother translating the comp package, except to explain that if you buy in at packages of 2K, 5K, 10K, or 30K (RMB of course), you get either protostock, or actual amber, and you can trade the protostock with their platform.
Other news sources claimed that Ho Peng was doing the same schtick all over China, and claimed to be a standing member of UCCA. USFIA name was mentioned prominently. Here is Ho Peng doing his schtick in Macao in April 22, 2014. You can see USFIA and 美洲矿业 in the background. You can view the entire video here. Chrome users: Use incognito mode to bypass the "missing plugins" error.
Note that the video title is 美洲矿业中美政治协商促进会—侯鹏 which translates to "American Mining UCCA -- Ho Peng"
In a different copy of the video, Ho Peng got a different title: 美洲矿业中美政治协商促进会常务委员—侯鹏 which translated to "American Mining UCCA standing member -- Ho Peng"
And he apparently got an ID card from UCCA shown at the same event, vidcapped from a different video.
Back in the US, also on the ChineseInLA website, a user by the name of "Amber Dream" posted an ad copy under "China-US Commerce" topic on 20-FEB-2014.
Another forum post in China was made on March 8th, 2014 where similar allegations was mentioned and the meeting in Qingdao was again referenced, but this time with a promise that Ho will do a presentation in Beijing. It also mentioned that his biggest downline is a Mr. Wang 王軍 Wang Jun who also made millions.
The fortunes started to turn for USFIA in China around March 2014, as they are starting to attract the attention of the authorities all over China.
March, 2014, in Liaoning 遼寧 someone setup in some apartment's living room and talked to a bunch of seniors, hoping to entice them into putting in 12400 RMB. They started with just a "free dinner" invitation, then for those who seem somewhat interested, they were invited to a detailed seminar at this apartment, where the speaker even admitted they haven't gotten their direct sales license yet, but will 'soon'. And they also used the UCCA and USFIA Chinese names. A speaker named Professor Wang 王老師 was mentioned as a senior member. This was duly reported by the local newspaper on March 13th, 2014. The local Ministry of Commerce and Industry was alarmed at the revelation and agents from the ministry went to the location mentioned in the paper the very next day, March 14th, 2014, only to find that there's nothing there. And the phone number to Professor Wang was disconnected. There are suspicions that this Professor Wang is Wang Jun, top disciple of Ho Peng. The case was referred to local police and apparently filed away. However, USFIA continued to spread in China.
For reference, here's the comp plan used by USFIA in China, uploaded allegedly back in 30-APR-2014. It's in Chinese, of course.
An accusation claimed that China Unicom's manager Yan Bo 闫波, who was alleged to have accepted huge amounts of graft, had escaped to the US and is perpetrating this scam from afar. I personally see no veracity in this claim... Except I saw a claim on a FRENCH website, promoting Gemcoin, that Steve Chen was allegedly the FOUNDER of China Unicom 1993. That claim was impossible to verify, as China Unicom was a STATE Enterprise and was founded in 1994, so Chen's link to China Unicom was probably pure BS, but I find it rather interesting coincidence.
There were probably various presentations all over China by Ho Peng himself and his affiliates, but the net is closing in.
On May 13th, 2014 a Mr. Liu in Changde (Hunan Province) reported to police that he was the victim of USFIA scam. Had had given the scam 32500 RMB "long time ago" (few months?) and did not get paid any profit as promised. Changde police took this very seriously and started sharing information across China, and found reported victims in at least ten other provinces, as far as Xinjiang. And a coordinated raid picked up 22 "core members" all across China, including Ho Peng, who was allegedly nabbed in Hunan. A certain Mr. Lu and Mr. Chen apparently escaped to Thailand before they can be nabbed.
(NOTE: Chinese media do not report full names of arrestees or wanted people. I'm piecing together from forum posts and such.)
At that time, various followers of the USFIA scam was told to switch to a new scheme called EGD Coin, and many suspected it's controlled by the same group of scammers. EGD coin appears to be some sort of cryptocurrency that was promoted to Asia, claimed to be accepted in over 20 countries, blah blah blah. EGD Coin is actually E-Gold, a defunct scheme busted in 2007, only to have its name revived for another round of scamming. Their website's still around... and available in English and Chinese.
Also, some sort of announcement was posted on UCCA's website, claiming that USFIA and UCCA's name was stolen by unscrupulous individuals to promote fraud and it was unauthorized. The post itself was dated June 2014. However, no such link was found in Wayback machine archive, thus there is a bit of suspicion that the announcement may have been backdated, or is this a 'we will disavow any and all of your actions" IMF situation.
From there on, the arrests in China were documented in my other blog post.