A 59-year old woman from Wuhan city in China took the help of plastic surgery for transforming her appearance just to avoid 25 million yuan (S$5.04 million) of personal debts, state news agency Xinhua said.
According to reports, the police officers were "astonished" after apprehending the woman, who fled to the south-eastern Chinese city of Shenzhen after a court in Wuhan ordered her to pay off her debt. "We were very surprised at the scene," a policeman told Xinhua. "She looked in her 30s and was different from the photos we had."
The woman, who has been identified as Zhu Najuan, has also confessed to using other people's identity cards to travel across the country by train. Late on Friday, Xinhua reported that she financed her plastic surgery using borrowed bank cards.
Earlier in July, representatives from more than 300 Chinese cities released a declaration promising to make more credit available for consumer spending, part of the country's efforts to find new sources of economic growth and reduce its dependence on heavy industry and state-driven infrastructure investment.
But, as the country strives to make more credit available to individuals, it is also facing a surge in household debt. Reports said that it is estimated to have reached around 50 per cent of gross domestic product last year, more than doubling in less than a decade.
The authorities across the nation are exploring new ways to crack down on those who do not pay debts, while the regulators are trying to establish a reliable nationwide credit rating system.
Xinhua reported that a court in Jiangsu province has drawn up a blacklist of defaulters. Anyone who telephones an individual on the blacklist will first be forced to listen to a pre-recorded message saying "please urge this person to fulfil their legal obligations".
Xinhua added that Wuhan city has also launched a series of crackdowns on debt defaulters, and detained a total of 186 people in the first half of the year.