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A Chinese Family Collectively Married and Divorced 23 Times to Scam the Government

The more marriages, the more free apartments.
Zhejiang marriage
Right: Image by Jonathan Borba via Unsplash. Left: Image by phoenix689 via Pixabay.

In March, a man in Zhejiang, China known simply by his surname Pan, divorced his wife. He then married his sister-in-law. Shortly after, he divorced her too, in order to marry another sister-in-law. Several other members of the Pan family started to do the same with other relatives and eventually, 11 members of the brood married and divorced each other 23 times over a two-week period.

Their motivation? To cash in on a compensation scheme open to all residents in the city of Lishui, Sixth Tone reported.


As part of an urban village renovation project, those living in the area are given a minimum compensation of one 40-square meter apartment, even though they didn't own property. This was provided to any family whose hukou (household registration) was filed by April 10.

But the Pan family learned that they could game the process by getting married, registering as residents of the village, and divorcing to do it again, according to CNN. By doing so, each family member would get their own household registration, which means more compensation.

But authorities eventually noticed that the frequency of divorces was high. On Sept. 19, the office in charge of the renovation project reported the case to local police. The 11 family members involved have been arrested; four were detained while the others were released on bail. Their trials are pending.

Upon interrogation, one suspect said they didn’t think there was anything illegal with what they were doing. “In doing this, we were just trying to get more compensation,” said an older Pan family member.

According to a lawyer that spoke with Sixth Tone, the family did not break the country’s marriage law but they were acting against the criminal law.

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