(CNN) — A Shanghai couple are facing charges after allegedly selling three of their newborns to pay for iPhones, computers and high-end shoes, Chinese authorities said.
The husband and wife, both in their early 30s and identified only as Teng and Zhang, face multiple charges of trafficking of women and children, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday. The husband is in custody, and his wife posted bail, China’s Ministry of Public Security said.
Shanghai police began investigating the couple in May after receiving tips that they used QQ, a popular Chinese instant messaging system, to place an ad for their newborn girl, the ministry said. Police found the couple by tracing the IP address from their ad.
Police arrested them in June.
After their arrest, the couple admitted selling three of their newborn babies in recent years for a total of $13,000, the ministry said. They sold the first baby in 2008, the second in 2011 and the third — the girl — this year, the ministry said.
Authorities recovered the girl and are now looking for the other two children, the ministry said.
Neighbors told police the couple live with two of their children, ages 6 and 9. The neighbors also said the wife appeared pregnant in each instance, but the newborns were gone shortly after being delivered, the Ministry of Public Security said.
Through tracing the wife’s credit card and bank transactions, police determined the couple spent all of their sale proceeds on iPhones and luxury shoes, Xinhua reported. The Ministry of Public Security said the couple also bought computers and that police recovered the items from the couple’s home.
The couple told police they sold their newborns in the hopes the babies would get a better life, Xinhua reported, and that buyers voluntarily gave them the money. The couple reportedly said they never asked for payment.
The selling of babies in China has been a problem in the past.
In 2011, the Ministry of Public Security announced that a cross-provincial investigation busted two baby-trafficking rings and rescued 29 newborns in the eastern province of Shandong. The babies were purportedly sold by their biological parents in southwestern China’s Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, the ministry said.