Eighty-five people in China have been jailed for running a multimillion-yuan snake oil scheme claiming to provide a cure for baldness, a media report said today. Three founders of the ring and their employees were found guilty of fraud in the court in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, on Thursday this week, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today. The three ringleaders were given sentences varying from 11 to 13 years, while subordinates were ordered to serve to terms ranging from one to six years, the report said. 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.
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. It all came to a halt after one victim in Inner Mongolia reported the scam to police in late 2016, setting off an investigation. Prosecutors said that in just five months, the group fleeced 8,945 people of about 10.5 million yuan ($1.67 million). The case was so complex that the verdict ran in 254 pages, the report added.