Beijing: Sixty-three Chinese have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from one year to 42 months for running an illegal pyramid selling scheme in the country`s South.
People`s Court of Chenggong District in Kunming City pronounced on Sunday that the 63 persons, 51 of whom are already in custody and 12 are on bail, were guilty of pyramid selling in Kunming of Yunnan province .
Forty of the fraudsters have been given suspended sentences, said the court.
The pyramid selling ring shifted its operations to Kunming from Nanning, capital city of neighbouring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, in November, 2011, with over 500 people and CNY 20 million (USD 3.2 million) involved, before it was shut down by the police.
Using chain selling as a cover, ring built a network based on interpersonal relationships where gang members were offered commission for persuading their friends and relatives to participate in the pyramid selling.
A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public.
Pyramid selling has been banned in China since 1998 but still operates underground in some less developed regions.