The six were said to have contravened the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, some of the staff were also convicted of false imprisonment, common assault and theft.

This is the first ever unfair trade practice case heard in the District Court, and the imprisonment involved is also the heaviest penalty imposed among cases of a similar nature since the ordinance was amended in July 2013.

Hong Kong Customs earlier received information alleging that staff members of two fitness centers in Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei were suspected of engaging in unfair trade practices when selling fitness services, and coercing customers to procure fitness services contracts.

A total of eight victims were lured into the fitness centers, where the staff were said to have pressured and coerced them to provide their bank account information and balances to make instant payments for the contracts by means of cash, credit card or bank account transfer.

The highest contract price counted for a single case has exceeded $240,000.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any trader convicted of committing an offense of engaging in aggressive commercial practices will be liable to a maximum penalty of HK$500,000 and imprisonment for five years.