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May 31, 2010

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Villagers tricked into selling their Expo gift packs

PEOPLE are continuing to find sneaky new ways to earn money off of the Shanghai World Expo.

Some are buying Expo gift packs, distributed freely by the Shanghai government, from Chongming Island residents at prices ranging from 250 yuan (US$36.70) to 270 yuan each and reselling them on the Internet. On Websites, the gift packs usually sell for 320 yuan to 360 yuan.

The gift packs have a face value of 360 yuan as they include an Expo ticket worth 160 yuan and a public transit card with a stored value of 200 yuan.

Expo organizers have suggested people don't sell the gift packs and that they report the whereabouts of buyers to police.

Starting on May 15, local families began to receive a free Expo gift pack from the city government as a reward for their contribution to the event. The pack also includes a thank-you letter, an Expo map and a souvenir pin.

Zhang Jirang, a villager in Chongming, complained that he saw Expo-pack buyers wandering around markets in Baozhen Town everyday. He said they were posting adverts along roads.

According to Zhang, they coaxed elder villagers into selling the gift packs by telling them that the free ticket is useless and they could not got to the Expo unless they make an appointment via the Internet. They also lied, saying there was no money on the transportation card.

Still, some villagers are happy to sell their gift packs.

"Many old villagers are willing to sell as they don't plan to visit the World Expo due to health problems," said an official surnamed Zhang with Baozhen Town's Minhang Village Committee.

The official also said some villagers know very little about the big event and that they preferred cash over the gift pack.

Another reason behind the booming business was the lack of direct transport routes between Chongming and the Expo site.

An official surnamed Ding with the Baozhen Town government said that there were no direct bus or subway lines to link the town with the Expo site.

He also said it takes at least 2 hours switching from buses to subways for the island's Xianghua Town residents to reach the Expo site.


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