Six men — including five hitmen — have been charged with "intentional homicide" after an attempt to kill one person sprawled completely out of control.
The intricate, betrayal-filled plot started when Tan Youhui, a Chinese real estate developer, hired a hitman to kill a rival developer — referred to in court documents as "Wei" — who had sued his company over a dispute.
Tan hired a hitman, Xi Guangan, and paid him the equivalent of $282,600 to kill Wei. According to court documents, Xi took that money and spent half of it to hire another hitman, Mo Tianxiang, to do the job for him.
Mo, as it turned out, had the same idea. He hired his own hitman, Yang Kangsheng — paying him about $38,000 with another $71,000 promised when he completed the job. Meanwhile, Xi, the original hitman, went back to Tan and asked for more money before he completed the job.
But as Xi was asking for more cash, the hitman chain was continuing. Yang, the third hitman, brought on a fourth contractor, Yang Guangsheng, who he paid $28,000 up front.
The second Yang took that money and hired a fifth hitman, Ling Xiansi, who he gave an upfront payment of just $14,000.
Ling, however, decided not to complete the job. Instead, he contacted Wei directly and offered to help fake his death. He reportedly took photos of Wei tied up, then sent the evidence of his "success" back up the chain.
That's when Wei went to police with his story, telling them he'd been approached by a man paid to kill him. Chinese authorities then followed the trail and arrested all six men, including Tan, who hired the first hitman.
"Even killers in China have understood the essence of subcontracting their work," one user said of the case on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
All five hitmen were sentenced to between two and four years in prison, while Tan was given five years for his role as the first link on the chain.