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TWO police officers in east China's Shandong Province have been punished for helping a student enter a college by stealing someone else's identity 10 years ago, the third such case reported in the country this month.

Police at Zou Zhijing's hometown - Shanxian County in Shandong - have dispatched officers to Beijing to help her restore her identity and permanent residence registration, while two officers who participated in the scam have been punished, The Beijing News reported yesterday.

Zou had her identity and permanent registration information stolen after she passed the entrance exam of a local vocational medical school in 1999. When she passed up the chance to enroll at the school, her former high school teacher Liu Min asked Shi Yan, an officer at a local police station, to allow Liu's sister to take Zou's place at the vocational school.

High school graduates on Chinese mainland enrolled by universities, colleges or vocational schools out of their hometown need to move their permanent residence to cities where their future schools are located.

Fake identification

Liu's sister, Liu Yanli, went to the vocational school with Zou's acceptance letter and fake ID documents.

Zou, meanwhile, enrolled at Tianjin Polytechnic University in 2000 and worked in Beijing after her graduation.

She never discovered the scam until she had trouble applying for a bank loan last November, as Liu Yanli had already taken out a loan using her identity.

The police officer involved in the scam, Shi, has been fired while his supervisor, Bu Qingli, has received a warning.

It was the third case of identity theft reported in the past few weeks, after a postgraduate from Hubei Province and a university student at a Tianjin-based teacher-training college both discovered their identities had been stolen by others trying to enroll at universities.

Both victims had to wait a year and retake their national college entrance exams.

Neither discovered the truth until they experienced difficulties applying for services such as bank loans.

Teachers and officials who participated in the two previous cases are under investigation.

A strict permanent residence registration system, also known as hukou, is enforced on Chinese mainland. Hukou entitles a certificate holder to enjoy local social welfare as well as other benefits. Without hukou, a person might find themselves excluded from the local social network and facing difficulties in their daily life.


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