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China: Around The Nation

Chinese student ‘fakes his own kidnap to test if his father really loved him’

College freshman detained after family asks for police help over ransom demand and messages warning that the man’s life was in danger

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 3:03pm

A college student from northwestern China has been detained by police after allegedly staging his own kidnapping to test his father’s love for him.

On the night of July 13, relatives of a college freshman surnamed Zhu, from Shaanxi province, started receiving messages on the instant messaging platform WeChat indicating that Zhu had been “kidnapped”, according to a report from kankanews.com.

The 18-year-old had travelled to the city of Taizhou in Jiangsu province to look for work during the summer holiday.

One message asked Zhu’s family to find 100,000 yuan (US$14,868) within one hour to save his life. A later message said: “Only 27 minutes left. Your son’s organs are worth more than 100,000 yuan. We just want money. Don’t force us. We have limited patience. There are others wanting your son’s life.”

The messages also came with videos implying Zhu’s life was at stake.

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One video shows Zhu being led by others in a meadow. In another video, Zhu, bound and gagged, had water poured over his head by someone who said in the background: “Hurry. Throw water at him. Wake him up.”

Zhu’s family contacted the police in Taizhou for help. Based on the videos, the police traced Zhu to a hotel. They found that he had checked in six days before the “kidnap” and had not checked out when the police came, according to the report.

The police suspected that Zhu had been transferred by the “kidnappers” to another location since his phone went unanswered and his room was littered with cigarette butts, clothes and water stains.

But at around 7.39pm, Zhu returned to the hotel, safe and sound. Surprised to see the police, he told them that the “kidnapping” was a joke.

The report said shortly after coming to Taizhou, Zhu had spent all his money and had not yet managed to find a job.

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He claimed that since childhood he had felt unloved by his father and had staged the kidnapping with two others to test whether his parent really cared about him.

After learning of the “kidnapping,” Zhu’s family drove from the city of Yan’an in Shaanxi to Taizhou. After finding that he was safe, they wanted to return home immediately because Zhu’s grandmother was in hospital as a result of the “kidnapping”.

The report said Zhu had promised to apologise to his family.

Zhu and the other two “kidnappers,” accused of blackmail and extortion, have been detained by the Taizhou police.