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China jails, fines Beijing Olympics ticket scalper

Nov. 16, 2008, 5:19 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING(AP) A man found guilty of scalping more than 500 tickets to the Beijing Olympics was sentenced to two and a half years in jail and a $65,000 fine, state media reported Sunday.

The 41-year-old Chinese national used illegally obtained identification information to book 527 Olympic tickets with 230,000 yuan ($34,000) through the organizers' online ticketing system, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Xinhua said the man, surnamed He, had agreed to obtain the tickets for two companies in Beijing and Guangzhou - at a profit of 50 percent to 60 percent of official prices.

He was arrested by police on May 13, Xinhua said. Beijing Olympics organizers in the lead up to the games had warned that ticket scalping is illegal and anyone caught risked being detained for up to 15 days.

The police also raised the threat of re-education through labor, where Chinese can be sentenced to manual labor camps without trial.

A total of seven million tickets were available for the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics, three-quarters of which were sold in China through the official ticketing Web site or at ticket outlets.

Between May 5, when the final round of Olympic ticket sales began in China, and July 27, police caught about 100 Chinese black marketers, some whom tried to sell tickets at up to 100 times their original value, state media earlier reported.

Olympic tickets were printed with warnings that they could not be resold or traded, and opening and closing ceremony tickets could only be transferred once to person approved by the organizers.