A Chinese man whose best friend’s wife had introduced him to his online girlfriend of over a year recently learned that the woman he had fallen in love with had actually been his friend’s wife trying to scam him.
Mr. Zhou, a middle-aged man from Xuchang, China’s Henan province, had been trying to raise money to start a family by growing watermelons in Myanmar. He had been gone for years, but he still kept in touch with his best friend, Xiao Li, to whom he confessed last year that his business was going well and that he wanted to meet a good woman. Li told him that his wife had a girlfriend who was also single and that she could introduce them. Because Zhou was still abroad tending to his fruit business, online dating was the only viable option. The two hit it off and agreed to continue their long-distance relationship until Zhou returned to China.
About three months into their online relationship. Mr. Zhou’s online girlfriend told him that her brother had been in a terrible accident on a construction site and that she desperately needed 5,000 yuan ($730) for medical expenses. Thinking that it wasn’t too much money, Zhou agreed to send it to her, but only a few weeks later, she once again asked for money, claiming that her father was sick. He ended up sending her over 80,000 yuan ($11,650) over the course of a year.
Earlier this year, Zhou told his friend Xiao Li how well his relationship was going and how he had decided to return to Xuchang to finally meet his girlfriend and hopefully marry her. Li didn’t have anything negative to say, only earlier this month, he called his friend and told him that his girlfriend may not exist and that he might have been dating his wife all along.
“You seem to have been cheated, your girlfriend is my wife!” Xiao Li said over the phone, adding that his wife had left him without a word after he discovered evidence of her impersonation on her Douyin (TikTok) account.
At first, Zhou was dumbfounded by the revelation, but when he tried contacting his online girlfriend, she didn’t even bother replying which suggested that Li had been right. He considered alerting the authorities, but his best friend begged him not to do it, promising to return all the money himself, in installments. He agreed to let his friend resolve matters, but after Li failed to return the entire sum his wife had allegedly stolen, he went to the authorities.
Zhou’s story went viral in China and was picked up by several major news outlets. As of this writing, an investigation into this case is ongoing and it is unclear whether Xiao Li’s wife has been apprehended, or whether he had any part to play in this heartless scam.