Heads roll over Chinese fake cure for baldness

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 5:57pm

A court in northern China has ordered a group of 85 defendants to serve up to 13 years behind bars for a multimillion-yuan snake oil scheme promoted as a cure for baldness.

The three founders of the ring as well as their employees were found guilty of fraud in the court in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, on Thursday, online news outlet North News reported on Sunday.

The founders trained the workers to pretend to be medical consultants or doctors and persuade people to buy the tonic over the phone, the report said.

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They targeted people losing hair or with other symptoms traditionally associated with “weak kidneys”, claiming the medication was prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen renal function.

At its peak, the operation had more than 100 people organised into various teams responsible for logistics, marketing, advertising and finance, the report said.

But it all came to a halt after one victim in Inner Mongolia reported the scam to police in late 2016, setting off an investigation.

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Prosecutors said that in just five months, the group fleeced 8,945 people of about 10.5 million yuan (US$1.67 million).

The case was so complex that the verdict ran to 254 pages.

The three ringleaders were given sentences of between 11 and 13 years, while subordinates were ordered serve to terms ranging from one to six years, the report said.