Eleven members of a Chinese family are said to have staged phony marriages where they married and divorced one another 23 times over a two-week period in a scam to obtain free state housing, Chinese state media said Tuesday.

The family allegedly exploited an urban renewal program intended to give free apartments to residents of an area in Lishui city in the Zhejiang Province where homes were demolished to pave the way for a development project.

The scheme purportedly began when a man named Pan Mouyong remarried his ex-wife Shi on March 6, according to the state-run People's Daily.

As the story goes, Pan's wife registered as a resident of a local village so she could obtain an apartment, according to news reports. They divorced six days later after she obtained her residency permit.

Days later, Pan married and divorced his sister-in-law and her sister. Cousins, brothers and sisters also allegedly got in on the act.

At one point, Pan registered three marriages at the Ministry of Civil Affairs in one week, the paper said. Marriage officials reported the alleged scheme last Thursday after noticing the multiple marriages.


Eleven family members were arrested in connection with the alleged fraud.

An investigation is ongoing.