Blackmailer fined, jailed for 20 years over scams

Putuo District People's Court has sentenced a man to 20 years in jail for fraud and blackmail amid the nationwide crackdown against gangsters.

Putuo District People’s Court has sentenced a man to 20 years in jail for fraud and blackmail amid the nationwide crackdown against gangsters.

The man, surnamed Guo, claimed to be a lawyer and blackmailed clients with the help of five accomplices who spread online rumors, prosecutors said. He made about 3 million yuan (US$430,000).

Putuo police started investigations at the end of 2017 when a woman surnamed Wang reported that she was being blackmailed by Guo.

Wang said she was introduced to Guo by a friend. Guo promised to settle a case of hers for 300,000 yuan. But she changed her mind before she paid him the money.

She then received numerous threatening messages from Guo. He also made up rumors about her on the Internet and put up defamatory posters in her residential complex, according to the Putuo police.

Police discovered Guo had introduced himself as a lawyer to other people and then blackmailed them.

In 2015, Guo made up rumors about a real estate developer which affected the business of a hotel chain.

The chain paid him 280,000 yuan to settle their problem, police said.

In another case in 2017, Guo hired his accomplices to spread online rumors against a company that had a dispute with Guo on house leasing contracts. Under the gang’s threats, the company was forced to pay 1.1 million yuan in “compensation” along with a 100,000-yuan legal consultancy fee to Guo.

The Putuo police caught Guo and his accomplices on January 25, 2018 after a two-month investigation.

The five people who were hired by Guo to blackmail people also received sentences.

Guo was also fined 600,000 yuan.

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