A Chinese woman posed as a Qing Dynasty princess and conned people to give her millions to help her recover billions in "frozen" historical assets that she claimed to have.
The 48-year-old woman successfully swindled six people, who believed her story and invested a total of 5.72 million yuan (S$1.2 million), according to Chinasmack.
The scam surfaced when one of the investors, known as Old Wang, discovered that the US$500,000 (S$636,000) he received in "unfrozen" assets was made of counterfeit money.
The woman claiming to be the princess was recently arrested.
Old Wang met the "princess" in Jan 2013, and she claimed to have 175 bllion yuan in assets, including gold bars, jewellery and American dollars saved during the Republican period, which were frozen in vaults in Sichuan and Guizhou.
He gave 200,000 yuan, which the "princess" and her accomplices used as start-up capital to form a scam company to attract investors from all over the country, most of whom were senior citizens who are not highly educated but have some money on hand.
The scam only came to light when Old Wang, who had asked to be given some of the "unfrozen" assets first, realised that almost all the money he received was counterfeit.
Chinasmack reports that 10 people are currently known to be involved with the scam, with nine suspects having been arrested. The police also confiscated large amounts of counterfeit money and templates for making fake money.