A 59-year-old woman from the central Chinese city of Wuhan changed her appearance through plastic surgery to avoid paying 25 million yuan (€3.2 million) in debt.
Police officers were reported to be “astonished” after apprehending the woman, who fled to the Southeastern area of Shenzhen after the surgery.
“We were very surprised at the scene,” the official news agency quoted a policeman as saying. “She looked in her thirties and was different from the photos we had.”
The woman, Zhu Najuan, also confessed to stealing other people’s identity cards to travel across the country by train. She reportedly financed her plastic surgery using borrowed bank cards.
Representatives from more than 300 Chinese cities released a declaration earlier in July, promising to make more credit available for consumer spending.
In doing so, China began facing a surge in household debt, which is estimated to have reached around 50 percent of the gross domestic product last year.
State media reports that courts in Jiangsu have drawn up a blacklist of defaulters. Anyone who telephones an individual on the blacklist will first be forced to listen to a pre-recorded message saying “please urge this person to fulfil their legal obligations”.
Xinhua said the city of Wuhan has also launched a series of crackdowns on debt defaulters, and detained a total of 186 people in the first half of the year.