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January 18, 2012

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11 tried in skin-care scam of 80 women

A gang of 11 people who allegedly pretended to hire image ambassadors for skin care products, swindling at least 80 Chinese women out of nearly 1.44 million yuan (US$228,096) by charging them additional fees, faced fraud charges in court yesterday.

The suspects, all in their 20s, stood trial at the Songjiang District People's Court. Zhu Xuebo, the first defendant and chief suspect, was said to have operated an unregistered company in a residential complex in Sijing Town in Songjiang District since 2009.

Prosecutors said the 28-year-old and three other main suspects hired seven people to sell skin care products on the phone. They pretended to be customer service representatives and called customers of two domestic skin care brands to ask about their experience using the products.

The court heard that the suspects purchased information about the customers online.

During the interview, "representatives" lured victims into using a new product and become its image ambassadors, claiming they would be paid more than 50,000 yuan for posing in commercial ads, the court heard.

Zhu said the victims were told to use the new skin care products to gain a fresh experience of the new products while showing a "before" and "after" difference.

Once the victim was taken in, the salesperson would ask her to pay a "guarantee fund" for using the new products and would charge for such things as attorney fees, notary fees and taxes in the name of making commercials for the group, prosecutors said. The activity happened between June 2009 and April last year. In one case, a victim was taken for 222,500 yuan, prosecutors said.


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