Chinese media recently reported the story of a scrupulous Lothario who dated dozens of women at the same time, scamming them out of millions of dollars over a period of two years.
On March 20th, a woman arrived at a police precinct in Zhengzhou, China’s Henan Province, to file a rather unusual complaint. Apparently, she had been defrauded of more than 9 million yuan ($1.3 million) by her boyfriend, who she had met in 2019.
The accused, a man named Zhang Nan, had deceived the woman, claiming to be the son and grandson of powerful public officials, and asking for important sums of money over the last couple of years.
This sort of romantic scams are not entirely unheard of in China, but what made this case special was that the police investigation revealed that Zhang had scammed at least 20 women who he had been dating at the same time.
The woman who filed the original complaint, henceforth referred to by the pseudonym Zhang Li, told investigators that he had met the scammer at a car wash one day. He seemed very nice and after texting on WeChat for a while, they became romantically involved.
She was emotionally vulnerable at the time, and fell right into Zhang Nan’s trap, believing his web of lies and ignoring all the warning signs.
When her otherwise affectionate boyfriend started complaining that his father, allegedly the manager of a local bank, was accused of corruption and needed financial help to make the charges go away, the woman didn’t hesitate tp help, not knowing that the money was actually going towards fulfilling Zhang Nan’s dreams, such as buying hot cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche.
On another occasion, the scammer told his girlfriend that he was being considered for a promotion to deputy from his average public servant job, but needed to give some expensive gifts to the local leader in charge of promotions, so she transferred over 3 million yuan to his account.
By the time Zhang Li realized that she had been defrauded, her boyfriend had squandered most of the money on expensive cars, traveling, gambling and partying. The police told her that there was hardly anything left in his account.
Before you go and blame the victim for getting played like this, you should know that Zhang Nan had a very well thought-out modus operandi. During their investigation, police met another one of his victims, a woman referred to by the media as Li Min. She had also met Zhang Nan in 2019, soon after divorcing another man.
He was very affectionate, appeared to be successful, and showered her with gifts.
In the beginning, it was Nan who gave Li Min money. He had told her that his family was very well off, his father worked directly under the provincial government, and they were doing business all over the world.
At one point, to “prove his love” he put his expensive cars, an Audi A8 and an Audi Q7, in her name, which really took her by surprise. She later found out that the papers were fake…
Whenever she needed money, like 1,000 yuan, he always sent her at least double, and this made her trust him even more. So one day, when Zhang told her to sell her own car, because they already had too many, she felt that it was sensible advice. He later asked for the 200,000 yuan she got for her car to “invest” in a lucrative business.
At one point, Zhang Nan took his lover to meet his “well-off” family, only they weren’t at all what she expected. they lived in a modest home in the country, his father drove an old, beat-up car, but Nan justified it as a necessary cover because of his father’s high-profile job. he couldn’t really drive his Rolls Royce while working for the State, could he?
Li Min told police that she finally realized that he was a crook in May of last year, when she received a phone call from another woman, who also claimed to be Zhang Nan’s girlfriend. But the real shocking news was that she was living in the very same building as Min.
The very next day, they met and together discovered that their boyfriend was dating a third woman in their building… One of them was living on the 10th floor, while the other at the 17th and 18th floors.
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