A Shanxi police chief was dismissed for allegedly using multiple identities to amass a fortune in illegal money transfers, according to Beijing Times.
During his Fan Hongwei’s time as police chief of Changzhi, he apparently forced staff to fabricate eight false identity cards for him, and amassed huge wealth by illegally transferring money to his seven fake names.
The 53-year-old’s ID cards and information were deleted after each use, but his seven different names—including: Fan Wei Hung, Hun Wei Niu, Niu Wei and Wang Wei— (all pronounced the same, but with different characters) can still be found in China’s National Identity Card information database. Fan included his real headshot on each card.
He was discovered after a netizen who claimed to be “a policeman from Changzhi public security bureau” posted an article about Fan’s seven false identities on a popular online forum. The “policeman” wrote he had reported Fan to the discipline committee of the Shanxi provincial party committee many times, but never received a response.
Now, Fan is under investigation for “false identity fraud.”
Between voting, buying a home or starting a bank account, ID cards are necessary to participate in almost every aspect of Chinese life. As such, fraud is common.
Fan’s story follows the February 2013 “Gong House of Love” scandal, where a Shaanxi woman was sentenced to three years in prison after she was found to have four separate, false ID cards. She used the multiple identities to buy more than 20 properties in Beijing, together worth at least 1 billion yuan ($159 million). Nicknamed “house sister,” at least seven people were detained, and one police officer arrested, for helping her forge the illegal documentation.
Recently, the Ministry of Public Security announced that anyone found creating, using or receiving “black money” through fake accounts would be severely punished.
But despite the harsh warning, China’s national ID network lacks an automatic matching and error correction system. Even if two accounts are highly similar—or in Fan’s case, the same—it’s still difficult to find a match. For Chinese police officers, this is good news.
Police continue to accept bribes and create—or turn a blind eye—on the black ID card market.
Fake cards are commonly used to hide ill-gotten property and gains from banks, purchase multiple sets of property in cities were owning more than one home is illegal and let citizens enjoy increased health care and social benefits at school and work, according to Beijing Times. Sometimes, persons accused of crimes also use fake identities to book flights and reserve train tickets.