The case surfaced after a resident in Ordos reported to police that he was cheated out of 35,000 yuan (5,560 US dollars) in suspected telecom fraud in July 2016. After investigation, police went to central China's Hubei Province and arrested 85 suspects in November 2016.
An investigation showed the criminals published sham medical advertisements to collect contact information of the victims. They contacted them by mobile or social networking platforms, pretending to be relatives or students of medical workers, and convinced them to buy fake healthcare or food products.
From mid-June to November 2016, more than 8,900 victims were cheated out of over 10 million yuan.
Three principal criminals were sentenced to 11 to 13 years in prison, while another 82 were given prison terms of between one and six years.