Insurance fraud and suicide: A Shakespearean tragedy in Hunan

Society & Culture

A man in Hunan Province faked his own death in a car accident to collect insurance payments but ended up losing his wife and two children before turning himself in to the police.

According to a statement (in Chinese) released by local police on October 12, Hé Yǒng 何勇 (pseudonym), 34, was over 100,000 yuan in debt. In early September, he purchased a life insurance plan worth one million yuan without informing his wife, who was named as the beneficiary. On September 19, He used a borrowed vehicle to fake a road accident and then vanished. A few days later, when the police found the car in a river, they informed He’s family that he was presumed dead.

On October 10, He’s wife, Dài Lánlán 戴兰兰 (pseudonym), 31, drowned herself along with their two children after leaving a suicide note on her WeChat account. She wrote, “They say life is short. But for me, it’s neither bitter nor short. I left happily because I followed the steps of my lover.”

In a video shared by local media, He can be seen kneeling on the ground when learning about the death of his wife and children. He also repeatedly says, “My kids. I shouldn’t have done this. I’m so stupid for hiding my plan from you.”

After giving himself up to police on October 12, He claimed that he turned to online lending platforms because of the financial situation of his family. His three-year-old daughter had epilepsy, and he was the only one making money while his wife took care of their children. It’s reported that He is receiving counseling provided by the police while facing charges of insurance fraud and intentional damage to property.

On the Chinese internet, much of the discussion surrounding the news has focused on the real trigger behind Dai’s suicide. In her final message, Dai briefly mentioned that she was under immense pressure from “some people” who “blamed her for He’s death,” adding that the only way she could think of to prove her innocence was to end her own life. According to people close to Dai, she had a difficult relationship with He’s family since their marriage. In the past year, their doubts regarding He and Dai’s financial status piled up after Dai borrowed money on multiple occasions. When asked what the money was for, Dai always said that her husband needed it.

In an audio clip that appears to have been recorded before He surrendered to the police, the husband says, “Why couldn’t she stay strong and bring up the children even if the accident had been real.” Sympathizing with the wife, many internet users lashed out against He. One Weibo user commented (in Chinese), “Why couldn’t you stay strong and pay off the debt?”