Jack Yao, a Chinese Communist Party member, never wanted to be an activist.

Having escaped rural poverty and joined Beijing's middle classes through decades of study and work, he saw himself as a patriotic poster child of the party's successful rule.

Yet the 43-year-old's life has been upended since he and thousands of other people abruptly lost access to their savings in a banking fraud scandal that erupted in April, which centered on a string of rural lenders in Henan and Anhui provinces.