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SpirE-Journal 2007 Q3

China’s online headaches as 2008 Beijing Olympic looms

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China’s online headaches as 2008 Beijing Olympic looms

Internet scams have been erupting in China more and more frequently in the months leading up to the Summer Olympics to be held in Beijing in 2008.

Since early 2007, Beijing police have seized nearly 30,000 fake Olympic products, mainly the official mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, or “Fuwa”s. Most of these fake products were sold near subways, at night markets or on the Internet.

The Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee called on consumers not to purchase counterfeit Olympic Mascots sold on the Internet in as early as 2005. An official from the Market Development Department of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee said that all 2008 Beijing Olympic Games mascots sold through the Internet were pirated and therefore illegal.

China’s headache did not stop with the mascots. Overwhelming demand crashed the Beijing Olympics online ticketing system earlier this year. Eight hours after the tickets went on sale, the ticketing website indicated that the system was busy and asked users to check back later.

This and the limited number of tickets for sale gave rise to bogus Olympic websites and email scams promising entry to Olympics events. In April, Chinese police arrested three people who set up a fraudulent site to sell fake tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies and all sporting events.

An online scam also surfaced purporting to be from the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, claiming to offer monetary prizes and a trip to the Beijing Olympics in 20085. At first glance, the email appeared similar to the “Winning Notification” lottery emails that are all too common, but this was the first scam attempting to capitalize on the name of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. As with most email scams, the perpetrators were probably seeking personal information for identity theft.

The Chinese government has long indicated its determination to oppose the threat posed by both counterfeits and internet fraud. In the face of brazen Olympics-related scams that threaten to tarnish the “brand image” of the country, this determination can only increase.

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