A court in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Monday sentenced 65 people for telecom fraud.
The leader, surnamed Li, received 14 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 yuan (16,000 U.S. dollars), while the other 64 were given sentences of up to 12 years in prison, according to Yuanzhou District People's Court in the city of Guyuan.
Another four people stood trial but were not given prison sentences as their crimes were deemed minor, the court said.
Investigation showed that the group targeted single people on social networking apps and match-making websites. They pretended to be single women who are looking for partners, persuading the victims to join their pyramid scheme organization.
For those who declined to join, the group members asked for reimbursement for fake train and air tickets or requested money to cover emergencies or hardships.
More than 130 people were deceived by the group, which garnered more than 9.2 million yuan of illegal gains between January and December in 2016.