A desperate woman hired an impostor to pretend to be her mum for 13 years to trick her gran into believing her dead daughter was still alive.

Cheng Jing, 46, from Xianyang in China's Shaanxi province, recruited the 'fake mum' to spare her grandmother, He Fuyu, from the heartbreak of the loss after her only child, Cheng Congrong, who died of lung cancer aged 69.

Knowing the news would devastate frail He, she brought in the imitator, who sounded a bit like her mum, to speak to her elderly relative on the phone and assure her everything was fine..

Initially, the suspicious gran, from Longchang in Sichuan province, was not fooled and refused to believe it was her daughter, but was convinced after Jing said her mum had a cold and it had affected her voice, according to local media.

The imposter, Chen Weiping, would regularly called He, who was very close with her daughter, but made up a range of excuses for reasons she couldn't visit, including undergoing heart surgery.

"My grandma was a widow at 30 and had to raise my mom on her own," Jing told China Daily.

She added: "The first time, grandma was a little unaccustomed to Chen's voice and asked who was calling. When Chen said it was her daughter, grandma didn't believe her.

"I told her that people's voices sometimes sound different on the phone, but grandma was still not convinced. Eventually, Chen and my grandma began discussing family matters and she seemed to lose any suspicion."

Jing and the rest of the family were able to keep up the illusion until her gran's death – just two months after her 100th birthday. She never found out her daughter had died

Her granddaughter later revealed the ruse was initiated by her mum, who, after realising she didn't have long left to live, started recording dozens of voice messages for the gran, who had no idea she was terminally ill, after she had died.

She asked her children to play the messages to her over phone so she didn't have to suffer.

Congrong even discussed different seasons, including complaining about the cold and advising the gran to take medication, so they could be played at various times of year.

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But after years of playing the same messages repeatedly and her gran began to get suspicious, Jing decided to hire someone to impersonate her mum.

While she admitted she didn't want to fool her gran, Jing said she believed it was the right thing to do.

"One major regret for me was that I couldn't take care of my mother in her old age," she added. "But I felt I could compensate for this by showing love for He instead."

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