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Group-buy website boss jailed for air fare scam

A Shanghai resident who ran a group-buy website and cheated more than 50 customers out of 130,000 yuan (US$20,616) with false information was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, the Pudong New Area People's Court said this morning.

The convict surnamed Li was also fined 3,000 yuan by the court.

Prosecutors said the 30-year-old man created a group-buy website,, in October 2010 to sell clothes, cosmetics and restaurant coupons, but his business began to falter due to fierce competition.

To attract more buyers, Li posted false information about low-price air tickets and it soon generated a lot of traffic to his website. More than 100 people fell prey to his group-buy scam and only half of them got refunds, the court heard.

Li boasted that his website had partnered with many airline companies. A domestic one-way ticket to any place in China cost only 399 yuan, including airport tax and fuel tax, the prosecutors said.

At first, Li bought real air tickets at normal prices for buyers. As more and more people joined the group-buy, Li could no longer afford real tickets and began to refund buyers with money collected from new customers, the court heard.

Meanwhile, Li spent nearly 100,000 yuan on gambling and daily consumption. He was detained on June 9 last year after victims reported him to the police, the court said.


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