Gong's ability to get the fake identity cards is central to the popular interest, suggesting corruption among the police who issue the cards. Authorities have already detained four police officers on suspicion of helping Gong obtain the fake IDs, the Ministry of Public Security said.
Fake IDs can help hide income and business activities and circumvent rules in Beijing and other cities that limit the number of houses and apartments someone can buy to prevent speculation and tamp down prices.
Multiple IDs give a person access to benefits others are deprived of, said Yang Xuedong, a researcher at the Central Bureau of Compilation and Translation, a Communist Party think-tank.
"It allows some people to become privileged citizens, enjoying double benefits in property purchase, loans, education, child birthing and social welfare. It also provides convenience for some officials to hide assets and even abscond overseas," Yang wrote in a recent commentary in the Global Times.
Gong's case coincides with others that have emerged in recent months of government officials buying up large numbers of properties beyond what their civil servant incomes should be able to afford. A senior urban management official in the southern city of Guangzhou and his family had 21 properties. In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, a political commissar of an anti-corruption bureau and his ex-wife had 19. In central Henan province, a housing director and his children bought 25 properties.
Although Gong is not a government employee, she serves on local legislatures and is seen as part of China's sprawling bureaucracy. As a bank official, she had access to public resources.
The Chinese public also is concerned that loopholes in supervision, as alleged in Gong's case, also have helped government officials accumulate wealth and evade accountability.
"The contrast is too huge when government officials should have dozens of houses while ordinary people cannot afford a single unit from a lifetime of work," said Liu Shanying, a political scientist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.