The online peer to peer lending sector is growing in China as much as anywhere else, however enticements to get involved may spell bad news for naive investors.

China’s alternative finance platforms are marketing themselves as a haven from the volatile stock market, encouraging people to invest in the midst of an unpredictable market; the Shanghai Composite Index surged 150% from July last year, before tumbling 25% last week. The government have recently put into place measures designed to stimulate and control the markets.

Online platform sent a message to clients saying that equities are going “insane” and offering cash incentives for investment, describing the alternative market as a safe investment.

However, the peer-to-peer lending sector is very lightly regulated and the Yingcan Group estimates 1,500 of the platforms may go bankrupt or have difficulty paying dues, up from 275 in 2014. They estimate that an unprecedented 275,000 people put money into online lending firms in June, bringing the number of total users to 1.5 million.

Shao Yifei, a finance-industry worker in Shanghai, bought into the haven argument, cashing out of the equity market halfway through its crash on June 26 and investing 50,000 yuan in a Web finance product funding small companies.

“The online platform I use promises an annual return of as much as 9 percent,” said Shao. “I wasn’t confident the government would be able to stem the stock rout.”

However, these online lending platforms come with risks that may not be sufficiently advertised, tempting thousands of people into investments that will ultimately tank.

“The P2P industry is unhealthy and one can’t say investing in online lending products is safe,” said Ma Jun, chief researcher of Internet finance at Yingcan’s consulting unit. “Some irresponsible companies use high returns as a lure but don’t inform investors of the high risks. That forces some good firms to start providing similar risky products.”

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