Fake Taoist's online scam rakes in 800,000 yuan

Wujin Procuratorate, China - A man who claimed to be a disciple of Shangqing, an ancient sect of Taoism, was arrested one week ago by authorities in Wujin Procuratorate, Jiangsu Province, accused of online fraud amounting to about 800,000 yuan ($118,135).

The man, calling himself Guo Zhenren in his blog, claimed to be able to conduct Taoist rituals that bring good fortune. A graduate of a Hubei-based university claims that she was not only cheated out of about 600,000 yuan but says she almost married him in May.

A Wujin prosecutor surnamed Chen told the Global Times that he wouldn't release the names of those involved since the case is still pending.

The victim, aged 24, was born to a wealthy family. Her mother is a civil servant and father is a local businessman. Her parents had deposited more than 600,000 yuan as spending money during her studies, according to Tao Tingting, a media spokeswoman for Wujin Procuratorate.

In November 2008, she was preparing for the Graduate School Entrance Exam. Not confident in her prospects, she looked to have her fortune read online, and she found Guo's blog. After reading Guo's "clear and reasonable" explanation of feng shui, she got in touch with him.

Guo told the girl she would fail the exam. Regarding it as her fate, she slacked off in her preparations and failed. She then began to trust Guo.

He claimed to be an orphan who was raised in Taoism at Maoshan. And he said his wife had an affair and their child wasn't his.

Guo's actual backstory is quite different. He was born surnamed Ni in 1981 in Wujin, Changzhou. He is married, but has parents and a daughter. After graduating college, he got a job as a temp at a bank but quit because "he didn't see a future in it."

Soon after leaving his job, he started a blog and fabricated his Taoist persona. Guo's story drew sympathy from his blog's regular visitors, including his biggest victim. Guo began to ask her for loans. Gradually, the two started a romantic relationship, with Guo intending to divorce his current wife.

Guo's wife finally exposed the alleged scam after she discovered his plans to marry the girl.