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People are lining up in droves after rumors spread that billionaire Jack Ma is giving out cash to Chinese seniors

Julie Gerstein
·2 min read
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  • Online rumors in China are claiming that Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma is giving away money.

  • The gifts are said to be made in honor of Lunar New Year, but authorities warn it may be a scam.

  • Ma, through his companies, has previously given millions in LNY gifts to customers.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Chinese seniors are lining up at banks across the country after rumors swirled online that reclusive billionaire Jack Ma was giving away pieces of his fortune, UPI reported,

Many began lining up at banks across Fuzhou, in the Jiangxi Province, after a WeChat group claimed that Ma was giving away 200 Chinese yuan - the equivalent of $30 - to anyone 60 or older who could show proof of age.

The gift was said to be in honor of Lunar New Year, which began on February 11 and is observed until February 17. During that time, the country generally shuts down, and gifts of money are exchanged in special red envelopes meant to bring prosperity in the new year.

But authorities warned seniors not to trust rumors about a potential gift, and the Fuzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau issued an emergency notice warning citizens of a possible scam.

Ma has in the past offered special deals and promotions during Lunar New Year, largely through Alibaba and its subsidiary companies. In 2014, Ma's Alibaba issued 99,999 online coupons to users via WeChat, worth around 990,000 yuan, or $153,000. In 2016, Alipay, the mobile payment branch of Alibaba, gave away US$120 million in a TV promotion. And in 2018, Alibaba offered a "digital red envelope" AR game, paying out around US$820 million to customers.

Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, has scarcely been seen in public over the past three months, though he was reportedly spotted golfing at a luxury golf resort on the island province of Hainan last week.

Ma disappeared from public life at the end of last year after Chinese authorities cracked down on his business empire in November and launched an anti-trust investigation into Alibaba in December.

Read the original article on Business Insider