A scam artist posing as a 300-year-old Chinese emperor was able to dupe a woman out of millions of dollars in an elaborate deception that looked all too familiar to anyone who has opened an e-mail in the early 2000’s.
Seeking help for her business venture, victim Zheng Xueju reportedly met with supposed investors Wan Jianmin, who posed as a student of global investor George Soros, and Liu Qianzhen, who introduced himself as the emperor.
According to the South China Morning Post, the fake emperor, who reportedly attributed his longevity by drinking the “elixir of life,” asked the Chinese woman’s help to make a down payment to “unfreeze the money” from his “imperial savings.”
The scheme is weird take on the infamous “Nigerian prince” scam which involves promising the victim a huge share of a large sum of money in exchange for a small up-front payment that the fraudster would say he needs for him to obtain the inheritance, stolen treasure, or in this case, “imperial savings” of an immortal emperor.
The woman initially gave 2 million yuan ($300,000) to the the con artists to allegedly buy some lucky charm for the emperor.
She was then persuaded later on to invest 45 million yuan ($6.7 million) in “profitable” financial derivatives and a technology firm.
The two men eventually ran off with her money and were later discovered to have bought cars and houses with it. On Thursday, both were found guilty in a court in Shenzhen.
The real Qianlong emperor, the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty, was born in 1711 and died in 1799. Credited for expanding the empire’s boundaries, he ruled the country for his six decades, one of the longest in Chinese history.