Nineteen Chinese men looking for love found themselves sharing two wives and tricked out of more than 2 million yuan (US$312,000) in a marriage scam, authorities in Inner Mongolia said earlier this week.
The two women and their three accomplices were recently detained after one of the victims saw his “wife” as a bride at another wedding and called police, according to a WeChat post by the police bureau of the autonomous region’s Urad Front Banner on Monday.
The crime syndicate managed to persuade the men to avoid official marriage registration and get betrothal gifts worth a total of over 2 million yuan in the past two years, the post said.
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Most of the victims were from rural areas and above the average marriage age, a group of men that have long been a topic of public discussion owing to the difficulties they face finding a partner due to China’s lopsided gender ratio.
The country has 17.52 million more men aged between 20 and 40, regarded as the marriageable age, than women in the same age group, China’s latest population census has found. Older unmarried men are particularly common in rural regions, where a preference for younger men prevails.
The case surfaced when an unnamed 35-year-old villager in Urad saw his newly-wedded wife marrying another man from a nearby town while watching videos on a live streaming app in March, according to the police post.
Together with his family, he found the other husband and sought police assistance after both of them realised they were being scammed.
The man was reportedly cheated out of a cash gift and some jewellery worth a total of 148,000 yuan, while the other man lost 130,000 yuan.
The woman, from Gansu province, was introduced to them by a matchmaker surnamed Li, and used various excuses to leave home after marriage so she could trick others, police said.
In the case of the man who called the police, the wife was only home for 10 days during their 2-month marriage, lying to the man that she was visiting her parents in Gansu.
Another woman named Dawa, from the same province, had been running the same scam since August 2019, with the help of Li the matchmaker, police later discovered.
With two other accomplices acting as the brides’ relatives, the quintet successfully deceived 19 men from various villages in Inner Mongolia and Gansu.
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