Dan Harris in South China Morning Post

Retired Chinese diplomats and non-existent gold mines have been linked to fraudulent investment schemes in what analysts say may be a sign of trouble ahead as tightening liquidity and concerns about the viability of lending products are likely to result in further scams unravelling.

"Whenever there is a downturn, there is an increase in scams. That is true of China, as it is true of everywhere," said Daniel Harris, a lawyer at Harris & Moure and a specialist in investigating mainland scam artists. "I haven't seen that increase yet and I don't know why."