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June 1, 2010

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Travelers grounded, fleeced by agency

TWELVE people from southern China's Shenzhen City carried their bags to Hongqiao International Airport expecting to board a flight, only to find they were not on the passenger list.

They'd been fooled by a shady ticket agency.

Local police are still investigating the agency, which has disappeared.

The agency had booked the tickets and then, after getting the passengers' money, canceled the reservations.

"We lost our money and we were delayed," one victim, surnamed Wang, told a local newspaper.

Wang met one of the agency's employees when attending an exhibition in Shanghai on May 27.

The employee gave him an advertisement offering discounts for group tickets. The fare to Shenzhen, for example, was 650 yuan (US$95), about 200 yuan cheaper than usual, the ad said. The agency called itself Shanghai International Air Ticket Center.

Wang booked a flight leaving on May 30 and gave the group members' ID card numbers to the agency. Wang said he confirmed the booking with the airlines after the agency sent him the ticket itinerary.

"Everything seemed to be fine and smooth at that time," said Wang.

In total, Wang paid 7,800 yuan air fare to the agency. However, when the group got to the airport on Sunday afternoon, they were told their reserved seats had been canceled.

Wang could not reach the agency when he dialed the company's phone. The group had to return downtown to find hotel rooms and called police in the Pudong New Area.

Police said yesterday that they were tracking down the agency through an address left on the advertisement.


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