Chinese media shed more light on the details behind an impressive scam that saw five men attempting to pass themselves off as decorated military officers in order to rescue their imprisoned accomplice.
The five men, dressed in full military attire, brazenly entered a police bureau in Shandong and started negotiating with officers last month, but were soon busted by the police officials after arousing their suspicions. Video clips captured by CCTV and a police official at the scene were aired by state broadcasters, revealing almost the entirety of their interactions with the police officers.
Zhou Changsheng, who was in the role of “secret military tsar” in the sting, told the New Express Daily that he had orchestrated the entire drama so he could set up a charitable organisation.
“I tried to rescue him [the imprisoned accomplice] so I could acquire a starting fund,” Zhou said in explaining what had prompted him to rescue his crooked colleague. “I know he’s got a sum of money.”
“My ultimate goal is to devote myself to philanthropy causes,” Zhou added in an interview with the Daily.
He conceded that he had lied to one young member about the criminal bent of the organisation, but insisted he had disguised the group as a real military institution because he wanted to build up a team using militarised management.
Chen Linmu, 21, who played the role of a guard in the sting, told the newspaper that he was completely shocked when he was arrested.
“I didn’t figure out that we were completely phoney military staff. All I thought was to obey orders … until police officials brought us under custody, then it suddenly struck me that the entire organisation was crooked,” he was quoted as saying. “But it was already too late.”
A high school graduate, Chen, has long wanted to join the army and had asked his family to spend more than 600,000 yuan (HK$759,000) for him to give other members of the organisation to let him join them as a “soldier”.
Another member of the organisation, the peevish “colonel” uncovered by the video clips, was Liu Dianai. He has drawn most of the media attention after he frequently ordered the police to obey a “privacy act” during the “rescue operation”.
Liu admitted he had learned some of his tricks from a drama series on PLA Special Operations Forces, according to the report.
In October, state broadcaster China Central Television exposed a fake PLA general who had allegedly defrauded families by more than 3.8 million yuan by promising to broker admissions to top military training programmes.
On a separate occasion, a criminal surnamed Liao posed as a major general and son-in-law of an influential central government official to scam more than 3 million yuan from businessmen in Beijing.