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A Woman Scammed Donations Out Of A Bunch Of People After China’s Huge Explosion

She is facing up to 10 years in jail, depending on the total amount she bilked from people.

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The massive explosions in Tianjin, China, have taken at least 56 lives since Tuesday night. Over the past few days, people's hearts have gone out to the victims and their families, with many looking for ways to help.

Update: #Fires in #Tianjin blasts almost put off. Another 12 rescued. In total 44 saved from debris. 56 killed

On Thursday night, a woman claimed on Weibo to have lost her father in the blast.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Her account was heart-wrenching enough to get over 2 million clicks. Thousands took advantage of a Weibo function to donate funds to transfer her money.

The user — named "My heart belongs to FC Bayern Munich always" — titled the post "Thank You for Your Caring."

Weibo

"Today I saw him for the last time in the hospital. I told him I would study hard, get into a good university next year," it read. In an earlier post, she said her father worked in a company next to the blast site.

Then she went on: "I want to watch with you many, many Bayern Munich games and see them winning League Championships. I want to cook a lot of delicious dishes for you. But he won't hear me anymore. I still have a lot to tell him."

"A year ago, my mom lay in the hospital like this, and she wouldn't hear me anymore, either," the poster continued, referring to herself as an "orphan."

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Many people believed the poster's claim that she was a high school teenager who lost both parents. More than 3,700 users shared the post and donated money to her.

Weibo

That included several influential writers who have millions of followers on Weibo.

Best-selling author Zhang Jiajia was so moved that he promised to pay for her college. But hours later, people started to become suspicious.

photo.weibo.com

Three things led people to think something was up:

a. Throughout the night she kept deleting the comments questioning her identity, instead of trying to explain at all;

b. She ignored Zhang's offer and direct messages;

c. One of her past profile photos was actually a female patient who was reported last year to be suffering from leukemia.

With both the attention and the donations spiraling higher, the "teenage girl" broke down in an FC Bayern fan forum.

tieba.baidu.com

She apologized for what she did and explained it was because she had an argument with her father; she just wanted to vent but didn't expect the outpouring of support.

Chinese internet users, or Netizens, launched their own investigation. Her IP address showed that she's from Fangchenggang, a city in Guangxi province, more 30 hours away from Tianjin.

In actuality, the poster is a former undergrad at a local university but left the school last year, according to a statement published by the university on its Weibo account Friday afternoon.

The local police department stated on its Weibo account that the investigation is ongoing and the woman, surnamed Yang, indeed published fake information and is suspected of fraud. Her parents are both alive and have never been to Tianjin.

Netizens suspected her of receiving over $15,000, which under Chinese criminal law is a very big amount and could lead to a jail sentence of between three and ten years.

Weibo

The fraud story has been condemned and retweeted by multiple official media accounts, including the People's Daily, and has led to many upset Weibo users. One user said: "I'm deceived. I cried a lot for her, wrote a lot to comfort her despite the late night. Maybe I'm too sentimental."

"But if I run into this kind of thing again, I might still choose to believe," the user continued.

Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.

Contact Beimeng Fu at beimeng.fu@buzzfeed.com.

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