Beware of doomsday scams, warns China
Beijing: Police across China are warning people to be aware of scams related to the "end of the world" prophecy based on the ancient Mayan calendar.
The so-called doomsday, supposed to take place Dec 21, 2012, has caused unrest and panic-buying of emergency supplies in many places across the country, the China Daily reported.
Police in Wangcang county of Sichuan province have detained two men who were allegedly spreading information about the "end of the world" and trying to persuade people to join their cult.
Many shoppers in Sichuan and Jilin cleared out candles in stores after rumours of three days of darkness starting last Friday.
Yang Guang, an astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatories satellite observation station in Changchun, said there was no scientific reason to think the world will end Dec 21.
"Dec 21 is the winter solstice and it's just the change of seasons. The day is short and the night is long, but it's a normal, natural event," he told the daily.
Some of the candle-buyers later said they thought the rumours were aimed at cheating people of their money.
Members of an "illegal" Almighty God cult in Shaanxi province "took advantage" of the prophecy to hold gatherings and disseminate doomsday information, officials said.
The cult requires members to surrender their property to the group.
Police in Huang-long county in Shaanxi have also detained seven people for spreading rumours on a bus in a bid to cheat passengers.
Officials said the cult has seriously disturbed people's normal religious beliefs.
In Xining, capital of Qinghai province, 37 members of the Almighty God cult have been arrested, and a large amount of propaganda material seized from them, the government said.