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China: Around The Nation

Chinese police short circuit scalper’s robo train ticket racket

Tout invents device to help him buy up rail tickets for the country’s biggest travel season of the year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 January, 2018, 3:27pm

A scalper has been arrested in southern China for using a home-made robot arm to help him snap up sought-after train tickets for the Lunar New Year travel season to resell at a mark-up.

The man from Huizhou, Guangdong province, used the device to help buy more than 150 in-demand train tickets from the state rail booking website, Guangzhou Daily reported on Saturday.

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He then illegally resold the tickets on his own website, profiting more than 3,000 yuan (US$465) from extra charges up to 100 yuan on each ticket.

The man said he spent about six months and thousands of yuan to develop the robot that he installed next to a keyboard to automatically refresh the rail website every second, greatly increasing his chances of getting tickets for the biggest travel season of the year.

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Police shut down his operation for “disrupting the order of ticket purchasing” and confiscated his unsold tickets, CCTV quoted an officer as saying.

“We have also scrubbed his website, his ticket-buying system, his programming as well as the robot arm,” the officer said.