Chinese fraudster finds there is such a thing as a free lunch


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The Independent Online

A middle-aged and clearly well-fed fraudster is being hunted in China after he posed as a high-ranking government official and went on free junkets for years.

The man, who called himself Zhao Xiyong, posed as the head of a State Council Research Office and toured factories and local government departments on all-expenses-paid trips, with free banquets thrown in.

Police in the southern province of Yunnan, where Mr Zhao is said to have conducted most of his “business”, called him an imposter. “Someone called Zhao Xiyong... made inspection tours and gave speeches,” a local government officer wrote today on Sina Weibo – the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Mr Zhao’s free trips included visits to universities, a power company and a vegetable farm, where he would give rousing speeches about economic development before enjoying lunch, the state-run China News Service reported.

The culprit could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted for his deception.

The general office of Yunnan’s provincial government called for “all relevant departments” to “take timely measures to prevent and expose Zhao Xiyong’s fraudulent behaviour”.