Founders and employees of a fake Chinese medicine ring that tricked nearly 9,000 people by selling snake oil claiming that it would cure baldness were handed out imprisonment up to 13 years in a town in Inner Mongolia.
According to South China Morning Post, as many as 85 people, including the founders of the multimillion-yuan snake oil ring, were sent to jail for fraud. All of them were found guilty by a court in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, on Thursday.
"Prosecutors said that in just five months, the group fleeced 8,945 people of about 10.5 million yuan (US$1.67 million)," the report said.
The three ringleaders were awarded imprisonment from 11 years to 13 years, and their subordinates were ordered to serve jail term ranging from one to six years.
The three tricksters trained their employees to pretend to be doctors or medical consultants and persuade people to buy tonic over the phone, the report revealed.
They targeted people who are having hair loss or people with other symptoms traditionally associated with "weak kidneys". They claimed that the medication is prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine and strengthens the renal function.
The operation was going so well that 100 people were working for the ring and they were put into various teams responsible for logistics, marketing, advertising and finance.
It only came to a halt in late 2016 when one victim in Inner Mongolia reported the scam to the police.
The case was so complex that the court verdict ran up to 254 pages.