MOSCOW October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Police in China have arrested a 48 year old woman who had been posing as a princess from the Qing dynasty, the news agency Xinhua has reported.
The Qing dynasty ruled China from 1636 until 1912, until being toppled during the Xinhai Revolution.
In order to convince skeptical residents of her dynastic origins, the woman used packets of counterfeit dollars and fake gold ingots, at one point paying an investor $500,000 in counterfeit banknotes. The victims of the fraud were said by police to be senior citizens from the age of 60 to 80 with little education, who put together money borrowed from relatives.
The fraudster asked for help in returning family treasure, apparently hidden in eight depositories in the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. She estimated their total value to be 175 billion yuan, around $29 billion. The woman promised to share her wealth with those who helped her in the first stage of recovering the treasure, pledging to return their investment in a sum four times the size.
In six months the self-styled princess managed to disabuse her compatriots of almost six million yuan ($934,000). Her scam was revealed when one of the investors, tired of waiting for the return of his money, took the woman hostage. After being rescued in a police operation she was also arrested on suspicion of fraud.
By the time of the scam’s discovery most of the money had already been spent by the princess and her associates on the setting up of the deception, with little left to return to the victims.