A Chinese man was recently arrested and charged with fraud for impersonating a police officer.
He’s definitely not the first person to do that, but what makes his case special is that he managed to convince everyone around him that he was a real police officer for 12 years.
41-year-old Wang Feng had always wanted to be a police officer, but never actually trained or studied to become one. That didn’t stop him from pretending to be one for over a decade, though.
It all started in 2006 when Wang’s brother was involved in a debt dispute case and needed a lawyer. To make sure that his brother’s counsel gave 100% in court, Wang met with the man and pretended to be a police officer at the Haiyan Baibu Police Station, in Baibu Town, China’s Zhejiang Province.
The ruse actually worked, which made Wang Feng want to try it on others as well. Soon, he started telling friends and acquaintances that he had become a police officer, bought a fake uniform, handcuffs, and even had a fake ID done.
In 2011, Wang Feng met Xiao Lu, the woman who would later become his wife. A friend introduced him as an officer of the Jiaxing Criminal Investigation Detachment, and she became fascinated by the thrilling stories he told about criminals and police investigations.
She was convinced that he was a deputy-level police officer, but as their relationship became serious, her family became suspicious of him. One of her cousins asked about Wang at the police academy he was supposed to have graduated from, but they had no record of him ever attending.
The fake policeman told his wife that he had used another ID while studying at the Chinese Criminal Police Academy, so that’s why he didn’t show up in their records. She believed him and agreed to become his wife.
When none of Wang Feng’s family members and police force colleagues showed up at the wedding, Xiao Lu’s parents asked for an explanation, and the fake policeman told them that both his parents had died a long time ago and he was no longer in contact with other family members and that all of his colleagues were attending a high-ranking officer’s wedding in another district.
After the wedding, Wang Feng told his wife that he was working on important and sensitive criminal cases and asked her not to talk about his job with anyone, even her parents. The obedient woman didn’t think that was strange, as Wang always put on his police uniform when leaving for work, constantly talked about his cases, and routinely left on “missions” for days at a time. Xiao Lu had heard that policemen constantly had to work overtime, so she didn’t find his behaviour odd at all.
What Wang’s wife didn’t know was that he had been faking his profession for years, so he had plenty of experience. He had read dozens of police-themed novels, constantly checked the public WeChat account of the Chinese police, and downloaded evaluation and debriefing reports from the internet, which he then faked as his own.
Throughout the 12 years that Wang Feng managed to fake his police officer persona, he also benefited from fortunate circumstances. For example, three years ago, his wife’s cousin was arrested for stealing and her family asked him to use his connections to help. Wang got him a lawyer who managed to get the charges dropped, which everyone attributed to Feng’s pull in the police.
Then, one of Wang’s friends was charged with a DUI and asked if he could help get him a reduced sentence. The man got his wish, but not thanks to Wang. He was sure that he was going to jail, but the alcohol content in his blood was low, so he only got his license revoked for six months. Nevertheless, he credited Wang Feng for getting him off the hook.
While everyone thought he was out on missions, carrying out investigations and catching criminals, Wang Feng was actually spending time in hotels or running a small and unprofitable printing business. He borrowed money to keep it afloat, using his fake identity as a guarantee that he would pay it back but never did. When he was finally arrested by real police officers in September of this year, he had accumulated over 2 million yuan ($290,000) in debt. That proved to be his downfall, as some of his creditors got tired of waiting for him to pay his debts and notified the authorities.
While searching Wang Feng’s house, police found fake uniforms and IDs, hand-written performance and debriefing reports that had been copied from online sources, handcuffs, and other props the man had used to impersonate a police officer.
Asked why he had kept up the ruse for so long, Wang Feng said that he had always wanted to be a police officer, and after pretending to be one to help his brother 12 years ago, vanity got the better of him. He enjoyed the respect he got from everyone, so he just kept telling lies after lies until it became impossible to stop pretending.