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November 30, 2011

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Trio face charges in airline ticket scam

THREE people who allegedly sold fake discounted airline tickets online and made off with more than 77,000 yuan (US$12,076) have been arrested and charged with fraud, Huangpu District prosecutors said yesterday.

The main victim, a woman surnamed Li, claimed she was swindled out of nearly 70,000 yuan when she paid for a ticket via telephone on May 29.

Li said she searched for discounts on the Internet and booked a ticket of a well-known airline company from Shanghai to Guangzhou at 650 yuan. Prosecutors said Li ordered the ticket by phone and entered her bank account number on the telephone keypad to transfer money as she was instructed by the 26-year-old suspect, Zhao Yueming. Zhao told Li to type a "system verification number" 66 before the amount of the ticket price to complete the transaction, by which he then took 66,650 yuan from Li's bank card.

Li reported to the police after she found her money missing. Other victims in the case lost smaller amounts to the scheme.

Prosecutors warned buyers to be more careful and not to give their personal and bank information when making online deals.

On July 27, Zhao and his two cousins involved in the case were apprehended in a hotel in Haikou, capital city of southern China's Hainan Province. Prosecutors said Zhao was responsible for picking up calls from buyers and holding the line while his cousins took money from victims' bank accounts via automatic teller machines.

Zhao told prosecutors they used the stolen money to buy two gold necklaces.


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