While the practice of ghost marriages is increasingly rare, it is still followed by some families whose young adult sons have passed away before having a chance to wed.
Normally the ghost marriage is agreed between the families of the dead, often for a fee.
But the Xian Evening News said the group of four men “stole female corpses and after cleaning them, fabricated medical files for the deceased and sold them for a high price.”
Last week, a court in the northern province of Shaanxi sentenced the four grave-robbers to between 28 and 32 months in jail.
The court said the grave-robbers had taken advantage of the “bad tradition” of ghost marriages in parts of Shaanxi and neighbouring Shanxi province, southwest of Beijing.
News reports said the gang made a total of 240,000 yuan (B7.2 million) from the sale of 10 stolen corpses.