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October 13, 2010

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11 years for Expo tickets fraud

A HONG Kong man was jailed for 11 years yesterday for swindling a total of 380,000 yuan (US$57,000) by offering for sale World Expo tickets that didn't exist.

Ou Derong, 60, established a travel agency, Hong Kong Chunxi International Travel Agency, in 2008, the Xuhui District People's Court heard.

He rented a house on Changshou Road as an office, but didn't register the company with the industrial and commercial authorities.

Business was bleak as the firm had no license and rent and employees' salaries made it difficult for him to make ends meet, the court heard.

Last June, he told the manager of a local hotel on Wending Road where he was living at the time that he could obtain World Expo group tickets, which were cheaper than ordinary tickets.

The hotel manager, surnamed Peng, was aware that authorized agencies could obtain cheaper tickets and had no reason to doubt Ou's offer. He ordered 5,000 at a cost of 81 yuan each and gave Ou a down payment of 200,000 yuan.

Later, the hotel's public relations manager, surnamed Gong, also asked to buy tickets and agreed on 1,500 tickets at 120 yuan each.

Police said previously that they didn't know why Gong wanted so many tickets.

Ou made the deals without showing the potential purchasers any sample tickets.

He was caught in January in Shanghai after the hotel employees had called police.

Police said that when he was arrested he had spent most of the money he had been given for the tickets that would never be delivered.

The 60-year-old had used several ways to spread the lie that he had access to cheap Expo tickets, police said.

The court ordered Ou to repay the money he had gained and fined him 50,000 yuan.

City prosecutors said yesterday they had brought cases against 61 people in 29 Expo-related cases between May and August.

Twenty-three people had been charged with intellectual property right infringement for producing and selling fake Expo souvenirs.

Prosecutors said the counterfeit goods had been sold inside the Expo site, throughout the city and even nationwide over the phone.


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