A former soldier from central China has cried foul after discovering he was the victim of identity theft more than 23 years ago, costing him a steady and well-paid job with his local government.
Wu Ruihua, from Dancheng county in Henan province, served with the People’s Liberation Army from 1992-95. After leaving the service he worked in various jobs, including as a farmer and an odd-job man, and most recently as a painter and decorator, the mobile app Shangyou News reported on Wednesday.
But in October, the 47-year-old made a surprising discovery. While looking through a list of retired soldiers who had been found work by the military veterans affairs bureau in Dancheng, Wu saw his name beside a note saying he had landed a job in 1996.
It is common in China for local authorities to find work for servicemen and women within government organisations or state-owned companies after they leave the armed forces.
But Wu’s job was news to him. So he began to investigate.
With the help of Shangyou News, he discovered that a man using the name “Wu” had been recruited by the Yilu township government as a senior technician on a monthly salary of 3,400 yuan (US$480).
Colleagues of the fake Wu – his real identity has not been released – were quoted as saying he joined in 1996 and claimed to be a former soldier.
The real Wu said he tried repeatedly to get a government job when his military career ended, but without success.
“In 1995, I went to the civil affairs bureau to ask about my new job many times but they always kept telling me to wait,” he said.
“When there was still no news when 1996 came, I decided to leave home and find work in the city.”
On Wednesday, the Dancheng government issued a statement saying that a man who had been using the name “Wu Ruihua” for more than two decades had been detained pending a full investigation.
Local authority records showed the alleged impostor was born in 1979 and had been working with the government since 1992.
Wu later found out that the suspect’s wife, Liu Xueli, was head of the Yilu government’s human resources department.
Shangyou News quoted one of Liu’s colleagues as saying that she was also a member of the township’s Communist Party committee.
But the alleged fraud does not end there, at least not according to the real Wu.
After speaking about the case to the Yilu government on Monday, he said he received a call from a person who declined to give his name but suggested a possible way to resolve the matter.
According to the Shangyou News report, the mystery caller told Wu that he could have the impostor’s job on the condition that he compensated him for it.
“It’s like spending some money to secure your retirement – you’ll have a pension. Why bother talking to the press?” the anonymous caller was quoted as saying.
Wu said he was dumbfounded.
“He pretended to be me, and changed my life,” he said. “I was never compensated, and now I have to pay him?”
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This article Identity theft: Chinese ex-soldier finds out about the 23-year career he never had first appeared on South China Morning Post