Liang Xu (L) and the man who conned her out of thousands of yuan (R). Photos via Weibo/SCMP.
We’re not much given to hyperbole and moral outrage here at Shanghaiist [Ed: Ha!], but it’s hard not to be morally outraged at this story of a man who, upon learning that a young girl was seeking information on a hit-and-run driver who hospitalised her mother, saw an opportunity not to help, but to con her out of thousands of yuan.
Liang Xu, a junior at Shanghai International Studies University, was in dire straits. Her mother had been hospitalised following a hit-and-run traffic accident and the family couldn’t afford her medical bills. Liang kneeled in the snow to beg for help from passersby and posted on Weibo in search of the culprit.
Following her social media appeal, Liang received a phone call that seemed to be the answer to her prayers, the man on the other end said he had information about the driver involved in the accident.
From the South China Morning Post (paywall):
When the two met near the Provincial People’s Armed Police Hospital, the man, who called himself Liu Jun, told Liang the vehicle that she described as “a white truck with a smashed window” was parked at his repair shop.
Because the description matched the car implicated in the accident, Liang was duped into believing him.
The man then said he was able to provide her with a “written testimony” that would also “give her leads to two other witnesses” – for a sum of 500 yuan (HK$600).
An eager and desperate Liang paid up only to be led on by the man again after he claimed he needed 5,000 yuan (HK$6,200) as “working capital” to pay the witnesses as a reward. Liang handed over her life savings while the man assured her that he would take the witnesses and the car to the traffic police brigade on December 3.
After Liang had handed over all her savings the man promptly cut off all contact, and the desperate young woman realised she’d been had. She reported the matter to the police, providing them with some photos she’d had the foresight to take of the conman. She also took to social media again to seek justice, hopefully this time with more success.