99-year-old Zhou Zhiping is on trial in Beijing for a scam that involved cheating a victim of 749,000 yuan. At 99 years of age, Zhou is likely the oldest ever defendent on trial in the city. From Danwei:
Zhou and his two conspirators made up a story that before Nationalist Party’s high-level officials fled the Mainland in 1949, they had purchased a large quantity of American government bonds and deposited them in overseas banks. According to the con men, the assets, now valued at over 130 trillion U.S. dollars, had been frozen by the US government ever since. Zhou told Chen that to get the money, he needed a “key”, which consisted of a number of US dollar banknotes with consecutive serial numbers issued in 1996.
Zhou and his accomplices asked Chen for money to fund their search for the “key” banknotes. He gave them cash over a period of three years before realizing that he had been had.
Chen, reportedly a Chinese-American scientist, told the Beijing Youth Daily that he was not fully convinced by Zhou’s story, though he finally decided to give him the benefit of the doubt in part because he needed to find funding for his research.
More from the Telegraph:
The scam is a variant on a common theme. When mainland China and the United States resumed diplomatic relations in the late 1970s, America agreed to lift a freeze on Chinese assets held in the country put in place at the time of the Communist takeover.
Rumours that the Nationalist Party, which in fact took the proceeds of the Chinese treasury to set up its new government on the island of Taiwan, had vast wealth hidden in the US led to repeated frauds in the 1980s.