Seven people involved in a high-profile telecom fraud case that led to the death of a female student were sentenced on Thursday in Jieyang, Guangdong province.
Chen Minghui, the ringleader, was sentenced to life in prison, deprived of political rights for life and had all her assets confiscated, Jieyang Intermediate People's Court said in a statement.
She hired others to pose as employees for Chinese variety shows and send 73,000 fraudulent text messages about lucky prize winnings to the public from August 2013 to March 2014.
Between June and August 2016, Chen and her gang swindled more than 1.04 million yuan ($159,000), including 9,800 yuan from Cai Shuyan, a high school graduate in Jieyang who planned to use the money for her university tuition and living expenses.
Cai committed suicide by jumping into the sea after realizing she had been scammed.
The court handed down sentences ranging from 13 to 15 years plus fines to three other fraudsters, Fan Zhijie, Gao Xuezhong and Ye Qifeng, while Xiong Yunjiang was given 11 years in prison plus fines for fraud and dangerous driving.
Two other defendants were jailed for three years and 16 months respectively, as well as given fines for concealing their illicit gains, according to the court.
In August, seven people were sentenced to prison in Shandong province for their involvement in another telecom fraud case linked to the death of a teenager in Shandong province.
Xu Yuyu, a high school graduate from Linyi, died of cardiac arrest in August 2016 after being defrauded out of 9,900 yuan, which she intended to use to pay university tuition fees.