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Hack-attack plate auction hit by wave of lawsuits

POLICE confirmed yesterday that hackers were responsible for Shanghai's aborted car-plate auction last Saturday as a spate of lawsuits emerged in the wake of the postponement.

Some bidders said the auction was suspended because bid prices were too low, and they have launched legal action. Yuan Yang, a lawyer who joined the bid, had his plea to file a lawsuit rejected by the Huangpu District People's Court when he appeared before it on Monday.

He has now mailed his petition to the court and sent copies to the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, asking it to review the Huangpu court's refusal.

Six other bidders also handed in lawsuits on Monday or yesterday but the Huangpu court, which has jurisdiction over the case, also refused to accept their petitions.

"Auction disputes should be accepted by the court according to law," Yuan said.

The monthly auction for private car plates was called off for the first time since its 1994 inception after a system overload.

The Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co said hundreds of thousands of people were logging onto the online site at the same time just after the first round.

"The network traffic suddenly increased tenfold, most of the bids were 'abnormal' and this disabled the system," it said.

Experts from the company teamed up with the anti-hacker division of the city's police to investigate.

After the first round, the lowest bid was 100 yuan (US$14.64), with 8,834 registered bidders.

According to the rules, that meant the final bid price would be 400 yuan at most, an extremely low price compared to the 30,363 yuan of a month earlier.

This month's auction has been rescheduled for 10am on Sunday, with 8,000 plates up for grabs.


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