Extortion gang sent to prison
Five members of a gang have been sentenced to up to 17 years in prison for offering loans and pressurizing people into signing IOUs for much higher amounts, according to prosecutors in Qingpu District.
The gang used violence to force the victims to pay the IOUs. They beat up their victims, locked them in cars and imprisoned them, gave them electric shocks and harassed their families.
According to Qingpu District People's Procuratorate, the gang targeted people who owned property and had good relationships with their parents.
One victim, Zhang, contacted Xiong, head of the gang, to borrow 10,000 yuan (US$1,450) to host a banquet at his company. He had borrowed from Xiong several times before and always paid him back on time.
When Zhang visited Xiong's in January 2017, Xiong agreed to lend him 13,000 yuan but asked him to sign an IOU for 60,000 yuan as a "guarantee." Xiong promised him that the amount on IOU wouldn't matter and Zhang only needed to pay him 30,000 yuan within a month. Besides signing the IOU, Zhang also gave Xiong his ID card as collateral and information on members of his family.
Xiong's wife took Zhang to an ATM and withdrew 60,000, giving him the withdrawal receipt and 13,000 yuan.
On March 2, Zhang took more than 10,000 yuan to Xiong's office, where Xiong forced him to sign another IOU for 180,000 yuan. Zhang refused to sign it at first but was beaten up by Xiong and three gang members. Zhang was also forced to surrender his property ownership certificate.
In April, Zhang was stabbed and locked in the trunk of a car. The gang harassed his parents who went to Qingpu police.
Another victim Ye borrowed 180,000 yuan from Xiong in September 2015, and was asked to return him 250,000 yuan, but signed an IOU for 500,000 yuan. Unable to pay the money back on time, Ye signed another two IOUs for 60,000 yuan and 210,000 yuan. Although Ye later paid Xiong all the money he owed, Xiong still demanded 500,000 yuan and that he sign a fourth IOU for 700,000 yuan.
Xiong also attempted to sell two houses belonging to Ye and his parents. When Ye absconded, the gang members approached his elderly parents, threatening them, damaging their flat and trying to kidnap Ye's 10-month-old son.
Xiong was nabbed by police as he attempted to jump off from a building. At his residence, officers found 370,000 yuan in cash, 71 bank cards, 14 official seals, 26 real estate sale contracts and 25 identity cards.
Xiong was sentenced to 17 years for extortion and fined 200,000 yuan. His four accomplices were sentenced to two to nine and a half years in jail with fines ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 yuan.