In a China awash with fake iPhones, pirated DVDs and knockoff Louis Vuitton bags, rice trader Lin Chunping took fakery to a whole new level: He invented a US bank and claimed he bought it.
The little-known businessman shot to fame in January when state media reported that he had taken over Delaware-based Atlantic Bank.
The unprecedented acquisition brought him praise: His hometown gave him a prestigious political appointment and state media called his business experience "legendary."
The only thing that may have been legendary is Lin's audacity. Not only did he not buy Atlantic Bank in Delaware for $60 million as he claimed, but there is no Atlantic Bank in that state.
Chinese reporters could not locate an Atlantic Bank or a bank registration by Lin in Delaware. He's under arrest for an unrelated fraud and has been forced to give up his municipal-level appointment to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the government's top advisory body.
Lin, who was arrested in early June, could not be reached for comment. But the 41-year-old's short, spectacular rise and fall shows how fakery has evolved in China, morphing from the manufacture of copycat goods to entire institutions and careers.