Two men in southern China have been implicated in a planned scheme to extort over 20 million yuan (about $3.1 million) from more than 200 government officials. Though the plot was uncovered this January, one suspect is still at large.
In February 2015, the duo had met in the city of Shuangfeng, Hunan Province, to alter photos of state officials and depict them in embarrassing erotic situations, before mailing the photos to the intended victims.
Liu Ling, the man who has been caught, was responsible for mailing the images. He was sentenced to five years and fined 50,000 yuan (about $7,000) in February by the Suizhou Intermediate People’s Court.
Chutian Metropolis Daily reported that Liu’s accomplice Chen Shuqi, who came up with the moneymaking plot, has yet to be apprehended.
Such incidents targeting officialdom are common in Shuangfeng, where 19 extortion schemes aimed at government officials have been uncovered thus far, as reported by the Shanghai-based state media The Paper.
The particulars of this specific case notwithstanding, Chinese officials are notorious for their debauched affairs, a point of focus for online comments.
“Many government officials have done those things,” one reads. “They themselves don’t even remember the details, that’s why they are uneasy. Those who are completely innocent are not the majority.”
Or as another puts it: “Nothing happens without reason. There is no smoke without fire.”
One user wrote: “No need to photoshop, just add pixelization to some generic porn photos, and [the officials] will all think they’re seeing themselves.”