• A pair of twins in China swapped passports to travel abroad more than 30 times, per Harbin Daily.
  • The Zhou sisters have been arrested and are now being investigated.
  • Before getting caught, the twins flew to Japan, Russia and Thailand using each other's passports.

A pair of twin sisters in China swapped their passports and identities to travel abroad more than 30 times before getting caught, according to Chinese news outlet Harbin Daily

The Zhou sisters, who hail from the northern Chinese city of Harbin, have been arrested and are now being investigated, the outlet reported on Monday, citing local police. 

It all began when one of the sisters, Hong (a pseudonym issued by the authorities), wanted to travel to Japan to be with her Japanese husband. However, her visa application to the country had been repeatedly denied, per the outlet.

However, her twin Wei (also a pseudonym) held a valid Japanese visa, so Hong decided to take advantage of their similar physical appearance and borrowed Wei's passport for her trip, per Harbin Daily. Hong later used the same method to travel between China, Japan, and Russia at least 30 times, the outlet said, citing the police.

Meanwhile, Wei used Hong's passport to travel to Thailand and "other countries" four times, per the outlet.

The Chinese authorities uncovered the scam earlier this year, though it is unclear how the ruse finally came to light, the outlet reported. Both sisters returned to China in May, per the outlet. 

The story has blown up on Chinese social media this week, with the hashtag "twins exchanged identities and went abroad more than 30 times" getting more than 360 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Comparing the story to a scripted movie, some Weibo users were in awe of how the twins managed to trick immigration officials so many times. 

"I've always had dreams of getting my twin to take my school exams in my place," a user quipped.

Many people also questioned the apparent lack of fingerprint checks at the borders. "Even the most advanced technology failed to uncover this. It's unbelievable," a user commented. 

It is perhaps even more incredible how the ruse took place in China, where citizens' movements are closely monitored. In 2018, Chinese state media outlet People's Daily said that the government's facial recognition technology was capable of scanning the faces of the country's 1.4 billion citizens in just one second. 

The country's strict border control measures have also been further tightened in recent months following the spread of several Covid outbreaks across the country. 

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