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January 29, 2011

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Men jailed for scam over sale of kidneys

THREE young men have been jailed for publishing false information online and swindling five people who wanted to sell their kidneys.

Wang Qiang, He Xiaogang and Li Shuguo were sentenced from seven months to eight months in prison by Fengxian District People's Court for making 5,300 yuan (US$804) in the scam.

After the victims were duped by the false information, the trio invited them to the city and asked them to pay for a blood type match test. But the victims were only given routine blood tests and the defendants pocketed the difference from the cost of the blood-match tests, the court heard. A routine blood test costs about 20 yuan at a district hospital.

Though the penalty wasn't severe due to the small amount swindled, the case brought to light the underground trade in human kidneys, which is booming because many patients are in urgent need of kidney transplants and the prices offered attracted many donors, judges said.

On May 9, 2010, a man from Zhejiang Province reported to police that he came to the city to sell a kidney, but was cheated out of 1,200 yuan.

The man surnamed Qi, 27, said he was in a huge debt and a friend told him there were people buying kidneys at 300,000 yuan a piece.

Qi found a website giving information on selling kidneys and contacted a man who left his phone number on the site.

Qi came to Shanghai on May 8, 2010 and met Wang, 22, who asked him to go to a district hospital the next day and pay 1,200 yuan for a blood type match test.

When Qi arrived the next day, Wang had already registered for him and, after taking the money, took him to receive a routine blood check, although Qi thought it was a genuine blood-match test.

Wang then asked Qi to return home to wait for the test results, which he said should take two weeks. Qi became suspicious after he returned to the hotel and realized he didn't have Wang's address. He called Wang, but found his cell phone had been turned off.

Police started investigating and caught all the three involved that evening.

At least five people from other provinces were taken in by the scam, police said.

Wang confessed that he had seen an online forum on which many people were asking for kidneys and offering high prices. At first, Wang, who wanted to earn big money without hard work, wanted to sell his own kidney.

After he saw the amount of interest the site was generating among possible donors, he got the idea of making use of people's interest selling their kidneys by duping them out of the fee of a blood match test, while on having them undergo a routine blood test.


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