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Armed police guard fences against fake souvenir sellers

ARMED police have begun patrolling the barriers of the Expo site around the clock as an increasing number of scalpers were found by surveillance cameras throwing fake souvenirs into the site.

Organizers fear this poses a safety threat and said dangerous items might be passed over the fence.

Scalpers were dodging strict security checks at the site entrance to take fake souvenirs into the site, said Gu Zuping, director of the Law Department of the Expo Licensed Products Office.

One gang of illegal traders was caught by police in June after paying cleaners 500 yuan to take fake souvenirs into the Expo site in their garbage trucks.

They then turned a rubbish collection site in the Expo park into a warehouse for their fake products, which were valued for more than 200,000 yuan (US$29,533).

Gu said many vendors rode motorcycles up to the Expo fences and threw goods over to their partners inside before riding away. By the time Expo officials reached the site, the gang had scattered.

Now, armed police guard areas frequented by the illegal vendors, who face fines, confiscation of all their products and possible police detention, Gu said.

He said the increasing number of fake products on sale had been beyond the organizer's earlier assumption, despite a crackdown mounted by law-enforcement teams formed jointly by the Expo organizer, Shanghai's police force and commercial authority.

Police had caught 337 people involved in manufacturing fake products and confiscated more than 640,000 fake souvenirs, said Chen Yiping, a police official in charge of counterfeit Expo merchandise.

Sales of Expo licensed products have already reached the former expectation of the organizer at 20 billion yuan, including 650 million yuan within the Expo site.

The top three Expo products at the site were the Expo passport, mobile phone accessories and Haibao toys. T-shirts and toys were popular among foreign visitors.

The most unpopular products were water pistols and wrist watches, with only two sold each month.


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