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December 14, 2011

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Wine ripoff earns 7-month prison term

THE general manager of a UBC cafe outlet was sentenced to seven months in prison for organizing scams that enticed customers to purchase fake super-premium wines in a fraud worth more than 1 million yuan (US$157,034), the Zhabei District People's Court said yesterday.

Chen Minyuan, 62, was also fined 10,000 yuan.

The court said Chen and two other suspects, identified as Xiaotao and Xiaotian, hired young women as agents to invite people they knew online to meet at the UBC outlet on Wenshui Road and cheated the victims with outlandish claims about the quality of the wines. Some paid up to 2,000 yuan for a bottle, which in fact cost less than 100 yuan.

More than 30 victims fell prey to the scam, and the agents were supposed to get a 25 percent commission, the court heard.

Chen said he bought the wines for 26 to 178 yuan a bottle and sold them for 58 to 2,000 yuan.

The court said Chen started the business in May. Police found the general manager earned more than 936,320 yuan from customers between June 1 and June 18, according to his own record.

However, none of the woman agents ever got their commissions, the court heard.

Chen said he would give a bottle away free when some customers discovered the wines were of low quality and threatened to report him to the police.

One agent, Lin Wei, 22, was sentenced to six months and 15 days in jail.


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