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Olympic ticket scalpers detained
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Police in Beijing's Xicheng district have detained six men accused of buying tickets for the Olympics with fake ID cards and selling them on at a profit, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.

The case is the first involving Olympic ticket scalping and is ongoing, as police seek to locate other suspects, the newspaper quoted police sources as saying on Monday.

On May 13, two migrant workers, surnamed Wang and Wu, were detained for allegedly using fake identity cards to purchase Olympic tickets at a branch of the Bank of China, an authorized ticket seller.

The men later confessed to being part of a gang involved in ticket scalping, the newspaper said.

Following a tip off, police tracked down four other members of the group, including its leader, a man surnamed He.

He is the owner of an advertising agency in Beijing, and according to the Xinhua News Agency, had bought 1,579 Games tickets, including 35 for the opening ceremony. Two hundred were purchased for a law firm in Guangdong, which paid He 640,000 yuan.

The gang is alleged to have gathered or stolen personal information from as many as 2,500 people and purchased a number of counterfeit ID cards. They also opened more than 920 bank accounts in Beijing and Hebei province to pay for tickets they purchased online, the Beijing Times said.

They planned to sell the tickets for 50 percent over their face value, it said.

The organizers of the Beijing Games' have said ticket scalping is illegal.

"People can sell on their tickets, but only once, and only for a price no higher than the face value," Zhu Yan, director of the Olympic ticketing center, said.

All those who bought tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies had their ID card numbers recorded. If they sell the tickets on, these details have to be changed, he said.

Therefore, anyone who buys a ticket through an illegal channel faces the risk of being refused admission, he said.

Under a regulation by the Ministry of Public Security introduced in 2006, anyone found guilty of ticket scalping faces 10-15 days' detention and a fine of up to 1,000 yuan.

(China Daily June 11, 2008)

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