A woman in China defrauded her friend out of more than 1.79 million yuan (US$250,000) by posing as the son of a wealthy business executive and sustaining a fabricated romance.
The fraud, reported by The Paper, began in early 2016 when a woman, surnamed Chen, from Shanghai met another woman, surnamed Ma, and they became friends.
Capitalising on the fact that Ma was single, Chen made up a story about a childhood male friend called Shen Ping who lived abroad, saying he was the son of the head of a renowned elevator company.
Chen then created a WeChat account in the name of Shen Ping.
Ma was captivated and soon established an online relationship with the fictional character.
From late 2018, as the “romantic relationship” progressed, Shen Ping frequently asked Ma for money, citing bank account issues, family emergencies, the buying of gifts for clients, and the capital needs of the elevator company.
Over the course of their “relationship”, Ma lent the fictional Shen Ping a total of three-and-a-half million yuan, receiving only small sums in return as holiday red envelopes.
The individual transactions, often of around 10,000 yuan (US$1,400), were documented in online records which have been revealed in trending videos online.
To maintain the illusion of wealth, when Ma’s cousin Xiaoma approached the fictional Shen Ping in 2019 seeking employment, the character readily agreed to hire him, taking the scam to an even more elaborate level.
Shen Ping personally paid Xiaoma’s salary and even enlisted a third-party company to cover Xiaoma’s social insurance.
But Shen Ping devised a way to “reclaim” these expenses.
He instructed Xiaoma to use his own money to purchase an item called “OK card” – prepaid cash gift card – for the company on numerous occasions.
Despite never meeting his employer in person or visiting the office during his three years of “employment”, Xiaoma bought these cards and advanced nearly one million yuan (US$140,000) to Shen Ping.
Investigations revealed that Chen, the mastermind behind the scam, paid about 500,000 yuan to cover Xiaoma’s wages and insurance.
However, Chen’s elaborate scheme netted her a significant profit of nearly 1.8 million yuan from Ma and 1.12 million yuan from Ma’s cousin.
The Shanghai Jing’an People’s Procuratorate has now charged Chen with fraud.
The case has shocked mainland social media.
“The plot of a TV drama has become reality,” said one online observer.
“This woman is truly terrifying. She even invested her own money to deceive her friend. It’s simply incomprehensible!” added another.
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