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February 15, 2011

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Prison for kidnap and torture conman

A MAN who claimed to have kidnapped and tortured children and young people in a scam to extract a ransom from their parents was yesterday jailed for 11 years.

Lin Qingbo, 35, a Fujian Province native, duped 18 desperate families into paying out almost 220,000 yuan (US$33,348) after falsely claiming he was holding their children hostage.

Lin pled guilty in yesterday's hearing at the Xuhui District People's Court but disputed the sum involved. He claimed to have only received 60,000 yuan from victims.

He was also fined 50,000 yuan and told to return all the money. So far, Lin has paid nothing back.

Lin got the idea for his scam from a news story about a criminal who claimed to parents he had kidnapped their children.

He bought 119 bank cards from a gang, whose members set up bank accounts to sell to crooks, the court heard.

Lin then called numbers at random, telling people who answered that he was a fugitive and had kidnapped their children. To encourage parents to pay up quickly, he claimed he was torturing their offspring, and played a recording of screaming.

"Some parents were so frantic with worry that they paid money into my accounts without confirming that their children were indeed missing," Lin said at the hearing.

Altogether, 18 families in the city's Xuhui and Baoshan districts and Chongming County were conned.

One parent, surnamed Ling, said he received a call last August. The caller claimed to have kidnapped his daughter and demanded a ransom of 20,000 yuan. After paying the ransom, Ling thought of calling his daughter and, discovering that she was safe, realized he had been duped.


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