A 59-year-old woman named Zhu Najuan, who was ordered by a court in China to pay a massive amount of debt, thought it was best to evade her responsibilities by literally changing her face.
After a Wuhan court told Zhu to pay her creditors for her loans, which amounted to 25 million yuan ($3.7 million), she reportedly underwent plastic surgery, according to Xinhua.
With her new face, Zhu tried to live under a new identity and went into hiding earlier this year. She was, however, finally caught by local authorities in Shenzhen in July.
Wuhan police who went to Shenzhen to pick her up were shocked to discover her new face.
“We were very surprised at the scene,” a responding police officer was quoted as saying. “She looked in her thirties and was different from the photos we had.”
Upon questioning, Zhu admitted to investigators that during her disappearance, she used other people’s ID cards to purchase train tickets and claimed that she borrowed ATM cards to get by. Zhu is currently detained by Wuhan police.
China has actively been promoting a “credit society,” and over 300 Chinese cities jointly released a declaration earlier in July with a promise to ensure more credit is available for consumer spending. The country’s efforts are reportedly meant to tap into new sources of economic growth.
The strategy, however, has caused a massive surge in household debt, which has reached up to around 50% of the nation’s gross domestic product last year, reports Reuters.
Debt evasion in Wuhan has become so rampant that Wuhan judicial authorities recently launched a series of crackdowns on offenders. This year alone, the city’s courts have detained around 186 people for avoiding to pay their debts.