Lengthy jail terms have been handed to 22 Chinese citizens – and a Cameroonian man – for cyber-related crimes in Zambia.

The gang’s only female convict, Gu Tianjiao, reportedly cried “papa, papa” as her seven-year sentenced was announced in the Lusaka Magistrates Court on Friday.

Some in the gang – including its mastermind Li Xianlin – received up to 11 years in prison.

The group’s members were also fined between $1,500 and $3,000 (£1,180 and £2,360) each.

Victims as far afield as Singapore, Peru and the United Arab Emirates fell prey to their online scams, say Zambian authorities.

After a trial lasting several weeks, the perpetrators pleaded guilty on three charges – computer-related misrepresentation, identity-related crimes, and illegally operating a network or service.

The 22 people jailed on Friday were among a bigger group of 77 suspects arrested in April, in connection with what authorities called a “sophisticated internet fraud syndicate”.

The swoop on a Chinese-run company in the capital, Lusaka, followed an alarming rise in internet fraud cases in the country, targeting people in countries around the world.

Growing numbers of Zambians losing money from their mobile and bank accounts through money-laundering schemes which extend to other foreign countries, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) said in April.

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