Lawyer helped loan sharks to run debt traps

The lawyer, Cao Yifan, was jailed for three years. A further seven offenders received jail terms ranging from two to 16 years.

A lawyer was among a group of eight who were jailed on Monday for setting up debt traps and running a loan shark scam.

The lawyer, Cao Yifan, filed a lawsuit incorporating false evidence against the debtors, demanding they pay off the loan. He was sentenced to three years behind bars for fraud.

Seven others, who were also convicted of racketeering conspiracy and illegal imprisonment, received jail terms ranging from two to 16 years, according to Jing’an District People’s Court.

In March 2016, ringleader Chen Yingang and three others, Han Shiping, Wei Weibin and Yu Guo set up a loan shark company. They had three employees, Zhu Min, Xu Wenzheng and Ge Dongliang.

The court found they were involved in at least four frauds, and Cao took part in three cases.

One victim surnamed Lu had attempted to borrow 150,000 yuan (US$22,665) from the company, but he was ordered to sign an IOU note stating a 250,000-yuan debt. In fact, Chen didn’t lend a single penny but still demanded money from Lu.

Lu refused to pay, and was beaten up. As violence hadn't worked, however, Cao then sued Lu but dropped the lawsuit after other group members were placed under police investigation.

“It’s hard to find out who is lying,” said Huang Xiangqing, deputy director of Shanghai Higher People’s Court. “Only in cases when we receive several similar complaints can we discover the truth.”

Huang said the likes of Chen were actually suspected of running mafia-type gangs as they usually used violence.

In another case, the victim surnamed Xu borrowed 200,000 yuan but he paid back 875,000 yuan. The gang illegally held Xu in a hotel room overnight, during which time he was beaten up. Then he was taken to his parents who were told to pay up on hi behalf.

Chen and Han were each sentenced to 16 and 14 years respectively. Wei and Yu were jailed for six years. They were all ordered to return their ill-gotten gains.

Also on Monday, six men who defrauded a teenage boy of a house worth nearly 2 million yuan were thrown into prison by Baoshan District People’s Court.

The boy, surnamed Hang, 17, had borrowed 5,000 yuan, but he ended up selling a house, valued at 1.94 million yuan that was sold for 1.6 million yuan to pay the so-called debt.

The six received sentences ranging between three and half years to 13 years.

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