Woman Deceives and Defrauds Friend for 12 Years by Posing as Her Online Boyfriend

A Chinese woman has been arrested for allegedly pretending to be a man on social media and tricking her own friend into falling in love with her and sending her money.

Shanghai police recently announced that it had cracked one of the most bizarre online romance scams ever. The victim, a middle-aged woman, had been scammed for 12 years by someone posing as a well-known TV news anchor on social media and defrauded around 2 million yuan ($290,000) over that period of time. The craziest part of the story is that the scammer turned out to be a good female friend of the victim who had come up with the plan as payback for something the victim’s mother had said when they were very young.

Photo: Peter Forster/Unsplash

The fraudster, identified only as Ms. Yu, admitted her guilt and told investigators that everything had started 12 years ago. She and the victim, Ms. Li, had been friends for a very long time, and their parents also knew each other. One day, Li’s mother jokingly told Li that she would have trouble finding a husband because she wasn’t very pretty and her family didn’t have too good a financial situation.

It was a cruel thing to say to a young girl, and Yu really took it to heart. The more she thought about what the woman had said, the more she wanted to take revenge, so she came up with a plan. If she would find it hard to find love, then so would her friend Li…

Years after being insulted by her friend’s mother, Ms. Yu approached the same woman to brag about being friends with a well-known TV news anchor who just happened to be single and in search of a suitable wife. As expected, the woman pleaded with her to match him up with her daughter, and Yu’s plan was set in motion.

The conniving woman started creating fake social media profiles of the news anchor and approached Ms. Li pretending to be this charming, successful man. She knew her friend better than almost anyone else, what she liked and didn’t like, her passions, her romantic expectations, so they hit it off. The only problem was keeping the relationship online.

Every time Ms. Li asked to meet her online boyfriend in person, he would find an excuse. He was either too busy with work, away on business, sick, or simply too tired to meet her. But he continued to charm her and declare his love, which was apparently enough to keep Li interested.

The defrauding wasn’t originally part of Yu’s plan, but by 2018 she had fallen on hard times and was in desperate need of money. Knowing that her friend was head-over-heeld about the online persona she had created, he started asking her for financial assistance, inventing all kinds of pretexts. Once she got Li to pay up once, she was hooked and continued to use her charms to bleed her dry.

Despite getting on her feet financially, Yu continued to ask her friend for money, pleading, lying, and even threatening to break off the relationship whenever Li asked too many questions or appeared reluctant to cough up the money. Whenever her friend complained about the situation, she always encouraged her to do whatever it took for love, claiming that the news anchor was worth it.

Earlier this year, after Li spent all her savings and started racking up debt, things became more complicated for Yu. Her friend came to her asking for help with contacting the news anchor, finally expressing concerns that something was wrong. Li wanted to confront him and ask for all the money back, and despite Yu’s best efforts to dissuade her she had made up her mind.

Sensing that her scam was finally at an end, Yu told her friend everything, how she had lied about knowing the news anchor, created the fake profiles, and how she defrauded her over several years. It’s unclear if she hoped that her friend wouldn’t go to the police, or if she just wanted to see the look on her face when she learned the truth.

Ms. Yu was arrested after her friend filed a complaint, and an investigation, in this case, is still ongoing. The whole story sounds like the plot of a movie, and there are some details that don’t add up, like how the victim sent 2 million yuan to someone she had never actually met, or how she went 12 years without actually meeting her online boyfriend. Still, most of the details come from the Shanghai police department, so there must be some truth to it…

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