November 27, 2008 / 4:01 PM / 9 years ago

Ant aphrodisiac conman executed

<p>An ant crawls on its colony's hive in Roccafluvione, a town near Ascoli, central Italy September 1, 2006.Daniele La Monaca</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has executed the leader of a bogus scheme for breeding ants to make aphrodisiacs that conned investors out of 3 billion yuan ($439 million), the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

Wang Zhendong was executed on Wednesday in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Xinhua cited an unnamed local official as saying.

The fictitious ant-breeding project that Wang fronted features prominently in posters and other government educational materials warning of the risks of pyramid schemes and other investment schemes that sound too good to be true.

Wang promised investors in the fictitious project returns of 35 to 60 percent, Xinhua said. The ants were to be used for making liquor, herbal remedies and aphrodisiacs.

One investor committed suicide after realizing he had been duped, while many others suffered from depression, Xinhua said.

Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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