A Chinese woman was recently charged with fraud for allegedly cheating three men out of nearly $100,000 by marrying them in staged ceremonies, despite being already legally married.
The 35-year-old fraudster was already married and raising a daughter when she started dating other men with the specific purpose of defrauding them.
It is unclear what drove the woman to a life of constant pretending, because, according to Chinese media, her husband had his own business and the family had a good financial situation. One thing is for sure, though, one of the factors that allowed the woman, known only as Zhou, to juggle between four husbands over several years was the fact that her real husband was always busy with work and didn’t pay too much attention to his wife.
Zhou reportedly started looking for prospective husbands a few years ago, and her good looks quickly caught the eye of three gullible men who never suspected her true intentions. She dated them all at the same time, managing to spend time with all of them without raising the suspicion of her real husband, before asking them to marry.
Because registering the marriages to her marks would have revealed the fact that she was already married, Zhou used a clever lie to bypass the civil proceedings. She told the men that her house had been illegally demolished and that she needed to remain single in order to be eligible for compensation.
Apparently, none of them thought this was suspicious, especially since she was really good at pretending that she genuinely wanted to marry them, and insisted that the wedding ceremony was what truly mattered.
In reality, she only cared about the wedding ceremonies because she wanted to collect the gifts and money from the attendants. She went to great lengths to ensure that the weddings went through without a hitch, hiring actors to act as her friends and family during the festivities, and apparently, no one suspected a thing. She even paid many of the actors to come visit her and her fake husbands over the years, in or to maintain appearances.
Zhou’s plan came crashing down last year, when she tried to squeeze more money out of one of her fake husbands, a man called Zhang, by telling him that she was pregnant with twins. She told him that she wanted to give birth with her mother in another city, asking him to pay for all the expenses, while he remained home to work.
She constantly sent him pictures of fake checkup results and even photos of newborn babies she downloaded from the internet. It was when Zhang came to see his babies with his own mother that Zhou’s problems began.
In order to trick her fake husband and mother-in-law, Zhou hired another actor to play the doctor who delivered her twins, but when he couldn’t answer their questions or produce the twin babies, Zhang began to suspect that something was wrong. He finally ran a background check on Zhou and was shocked to learn that she was already legally married. He called the police and Zhou’s fake life came crashing down.
After hearing about his wife’s secret life of crime, Zhou’s husband divorced her back in April. She now faces a minimum of 10 years in prison for fraud, as an investigation revealed that she cheated her three fake husbands out of at least 660,000 yuan ($92,000).
Although the full details of how Zhou managed to juggle four marriages, one of her most frequent excuses for leaving home was that she was leaving for training with the company she worked for.