A round of applause for police in China who have cracked a ring of hair loss snake oil tricksters and seen them handed long jail terms.

 

Whistle Blower

When a disgruntled customer in late 2016 from Ordos, a small but very forward-thinking town in Inner Mongolia, China, contacted the police, he shared with them his experience of dealing with a company that offered to cure his hair loss, sold to him using claims that their treatment took advantage of traditional Chinese medicine. When police investigated the claim they uncovered a huge and elaborate operation estimated to have raked in an incredible $1.67M in just five months.

Structured For Scale

Following up that single customer complaint would lead to the police discovering a major business structure involving salespeople, trained to pretend to be doctors or medical consultants, who would pitch the value of the treatment as a cure for “weak kidneys” – which are traditionally associated with hair loss (along with other ailments). Other “employees” were involved in marketing, logistics, advertising and finance.

A Dim View

And so it came to be that in a courtroom in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, we saw the sort of deterrent prison terms handed down that would presumably stop the snake oil business in it’s track elsewhere. The three ringleaders of the organisation were given between 11 and 13 years. Another 82 people, the business was estimated to employ over 100 at its peak, were given sentences of between 1 and 6 years, hopefully based upon the degree of their culpability though that huge number rather suggests everyone involved, down to the delivery boys, have lost their liberty for a while.

HIS Hair Clinic

The story was originally reported in the South China Morning Post, see the original article by clicking here, and we do not have a figure for the number of clients caught up but the nearly $2M turnover in 5 months is staggering. The complexity of the case was reflected in the length of the verdict, which ran to 254 pages. Undoubtedly the largest scale hair loss scam we have seen to date. We certainly appreciate it being taken seriously enough to be thoroughly investigated and the wrongdoers pursued. We are a little surprised that there were 85 of them. If you would like to discuss your hair loss situation with one of our friendly team of experts, simply complete the contact form at the side of this page or click here to find your nearest clinic.

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By Ian Watson

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