Seven mainlanders who came to Hong Kong on two-way permits have been jailed for up to 4.5 years for duping an elderly woman into paying $68,000 for a fake jade bracelet they claimed had 'magical healing powers'. District Court Deputy Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap ruled the six women and one man had come to Hong Kong with 'an elaborate plan of fraud' targeting old people. 'The accused came here under the guise of tourists in order to commit the crimes. They were highly organised. They took advantage of the ignorance and superstition of old people so as to cheat them of their life savings . . . Such behaviour was shameless and appalling,' he said. Kuan Yen-ping, 24, Tsoi Wai-ping, 44, and Wong Wai-hung, 28, who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, were jailed for three years. Wong Man-hung, 35, Lau Mei-lin, 35, Lau Lau-ching, 37, and Lau Mei-ching, 44, who denied the charge but were convicted yesterday, were jailed for 4.5 years. In applying for stiffer-than-usual sentences to be imposed, prosecutor Liu Yuen-ming submitted figures that showed the number of similar deception cases had increased more than tenfold from 51 in 1997 to 617 in 2000. Deputy Judge Yau agreed and raised the starting point for sentencing by 50 per cent from three years to 4.5 years. He gave a one-third discount to those who had pleaded guilty. The seven arrived on September 16. In groups of twos and threes they approached Lo Yuet-king, 63, in Aberdeen on September 25 and persuaded her to buy a 'jade' bracelet they claimed could cure illness. The bracelet was in fact made of a cheap material. Police arrested them after witnessing the $68,000 change hands.