TIL that in 1916, a conman called Sir Edmund Backhouse, claiming to be working for the Chinese government, sold the UK six (non-existent) battleships and an (imaginary) flotilla-load of rifles.

This link was originally posted to /r/todayilearned. See more things from Dan's Reddit account.

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[since originally being published on Reddit, the resource in question has been moved to http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-30513]

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