Boy loses home to loan sharks

A 17-year-old boy, who wanted to borrow just 3,000 yuan (US$450), ended up losing his house in a loan shark scheme.

Three men accused of running a loan shark scam, defrauding a teenage boy of a house worth nearly 2 million yuan (US$299,465), have been charged with fraud by local prosecutors.

The alleged victim, surnamed Hang, 17, needed 3,000 yuan, but the middlemen, who were tried separately, cajoled him into borrowing 40,000 yuan by claiming “underaged people don’t need to repay.”

Hang was entrapped in January 2015 into receiving a “windfall” offered by trio that was led by a man surnamed Qu. But later the victim was intimidated into signing an IOU note stating a 160,000-yuan debt, prosecutors said.

Hang managed to pay back 120,000 yuan. But in August, Qu found him at his home in Baoshan and told him that he now owed 900,000 yuan. Fearful of his woes being exposed to his parents, Hang felt he had no choice but to sell his house.

Hang took the property ownership certificate and sold the house to Qu’s friend surnamed Ma for 1.6 million yuan. However, Qu assured Hang that the outstanding 700,000 yuan would be used for investment to help Hang to get back his house, prosecutors said.

In February 2016, Ma sold the house for 1.825 million yuan. Investigation showed it was actually valued at 1.94 million yuan.

It was one of 22 cases of its kind taken up by Shanghai prosecutors since July last year. Among the cases, 31 people in 15 cases have been jailed, Shanghai People’s Procuratorate said on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Zheng Yong said there was an increasing trend of loan shark schemes, and many of the victims were under 18 years old and university students.

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