China imprisons Social Media Celebrity for Illegal Gambling following Red Cross Scandal

Guo Meimei built a massive social media following based on her extravagant purchases, online gambling habits and enviable lifestyle. But now she’ll be spending the next five years in prison on illegal gambling charges following an embarrassing Red Cross scandal.

The Beijing Dongcheng District People’s Court also fined Guo 50,000 yuan after listening to details on how she helped run an illegal high stakes poker ring and online casinos. Her associate, Zhao Xiaolai, pleaded guilty to the same two charges and was given a two-year prison sentence along with 20,000 yuan fine.

Guo admitted to helping run the high stakes poker ring, but refused to admit to helping run illegal online casinos. This is in contrast to her televised confession last year, where she apologized and wept over her gambling-related crimes.

Guo posed as a Red Cross Worker

After displaying numerous pictures of her extravagant lifestyle through social media, Guo claimed that she got the money by working for the Chinese Red Cross. This of course caused an embarrassment for the organization when donors quickly began chastising them for paying workers so much.

Guo later denied having any affiliation with the Red Cross, but the damage had already been started when an investigation was launched. Anhui-based rights activist Shen Liangqing said that Meimei’s case did highlight some of the problems with the organization, telling the following:

“The Guo Meimei affair came just in time to do them a lot of damage. The Red Cross has long had a monopoly in charity work, to the extent that you can’t donate blood, even to your own relatives, by going to a hospital. You have to give the blood to them first, and then they give it to the hospital. They are a middle-man.”

In the aftermath of the Guo case, Red Cross donations have dropped sharply, even after it was revealed that she had no ties to them. Ensuing news reports have exposed how much the Chinese Red Cross can profit from natural disasters and blood drives.

Guo admits that she likes to “show off”

With a social media paged filled with lavish cars and designer clothes, Guo definitely has a penchant for flashing her wealth. And she admitted as much through her televised apology.

“I like to show off,” Guo said. “I have the vain mindset of a little girl.”

Guo added, “I would like to tell the Red Cross that I’m sorry. I want to apologize even more to those people who are unable to get help [because a lack of donations].”

(Photo: ChinaDaily Forum)

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