15 people jailed over loan shark threats

A court found 18 people to have been cheated out of 1.7 million yuan in a loan shark scheme.

Fifteen people were jailed on Thursday at Jinshan District People's Court for defrauding 18 people out of more than 1.7 million yuan (US$ 260,349).

The were found guilty of extortion, fraud, filing false charges and illegal imprisonment, and were sentenced from one year and nine months to 17 years.

The ringleader surnamed Dai, an executive at a loan shark company, had hired others to solicit debtors since September 2014, court said. He was sentenced to 17 years behind bars and fined 270,000 yuan.

They made victims sign IOUs stating debts double or even more than the money they actually borrowed. When victims refused or were unable to pay, they were forcibly taken from their homes and locked up in a room near the company's office. Their families were harassed and threatened, the court said.

The gang also filed lawsuits with false evidence against the debtors, demanding they pay off loans that did not exist, court said.

Apart from the 18 victims, the fraudsters had tried to swindle others out of 950,000 yuan but their attempts failed, the court said.

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