Chinese college student ‘scammed out of US$11,000’ for plastic surgery to become a model

Woman says she was duped into having procedures so that she could get work and signed loan document provided by three men claiming to be from agency

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 4:45pm

A college student has been left 70,000 yuan (US$11,000) in debt after having multiple plastic surgery procedures in a “model recruitment” scam in central China, a local newspaper reports.

The 20-year-old woman, identified only by her surname Zhang, took out loans to pay for breast enhancement, liposuction, double eyelid surgery and a procedure to enlarge her eyes, Henan Business Daily reported on Wednesday.

A “modelling agency” in Zhengzhou, Henan province told her to have the procedures so that she could get work, Zhang told the newspaper.

“At that time, I was shell-shocked to find out how expensive the procedures were,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

She said the firm assured her she would be reimbursed for the surgery costs provided she stayed with the agency for at least six months.

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In a photo published by the newspaper, Zhang is seen lying on a bed in a clinic, with bandages wrapped around her red and swollen face.

The student said she saw the modelling position advertised on popular job search app 58 Tongcheng late last month, adding that the generous salary caught her eye.

“I sent my photo to the modelling agency and they said OK. I was then told to undergo plastic surgery if I wanted the job,” Zhang said. “They said they would pay 2,500 yuan a day and the monthly salary could go up to as much as 50,000 yuan.”

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Three men who said they were with the agency then drove Zhang to a cosmetic surgery clinic on May 29 to have all of the procedures done in a five-hour operation, the report said.

They told her to borrow 20,000 yuan via a mobile phone app, and another 50,000 yuan by signing some papers they had prepared. She told the newspaper she did not know who had supplied that second loan – she just signed the documents.

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But soon after her surgery, when the three men had gone, Zhang said she realised she had been scammed. The student’s family stepped in to help her make a police report after they were unable to contact the men, who had blocked Zhang on messaging app WeChat.

“This is way too much for our daughter to cope with. She’s just a student – how will she be able to pay off the loans?” Zhang’s father was quoted as saying. “These con men are evil, preying on an innocent student like this.”

He showed the newspaper a note written by Zhang to her parents apologising for what had happened.

“I’m sorry, dad and mum,” the note reads. “I fell for this trap because I wanted to find a good job to help ease our family’s financial burden – but now I’ve added to it. I was so naive.”

The clinic that carried out Zhang’s cosmetic procedures, Amelie SPA, denied any involvement in the scam. “Amelie is a licensed medical institution approved by the health and administrative authorities ... we do not scam, persuade or force our clients to use our services,” the clinic said in a statement on Monday.