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25 arrested over train ticket software and scalping

By Jin Haixing | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-08 04:46

A man who designed and sold software that gave users an unfair advantage when purchasing train tickets online has been arrested, police said.

Twenty-four other suspects were also held for alleged ticket scalping.

The software designer's attorney said that his client, Mo, may be the first software designer to be charged.

Mo's brother allegedly sold the software online for 1,500 yuan ($240).

The software can allegedly access and buy tickets in just a few minutes, much faster than other versions that can be used for free.

Police confirmed the Mo brothers sold 1,011 copies of the software online.

In addition, they worked with ticket scalpers to horde train tickets, and in return, profited by at least 50 yuan ($8) on each train ticket, Beijing News quoted police as saying.

Police found that the gang used the software and booked nearly 4,000 train tickets.

Police have confirmed that 1,777 train tickets were sold on at a much higher price to passengers, netting 1.4 million yuan, the Beijing News reported.

The Mo brothers are now being held in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, said Li Xiujiao, Mo's lawyer, on his micro blog on Thursday.

Mo was accused of destroying the official ticket system, scalping tickets and providing false evidence to police. Li disputed the basis of the first charge as the software was not a virus, he said.

Train ticket software has been a source of controversy since the Spring Festival travel rush started on Jan 26.

Some designers said they developed it to save people the trouble of sitting by the computer for hours and continually trying to get tickets on the official website.

The Railways Ministry said the software might paralyze the website and gives some people an unfair advantage.

Some of the software designers said they received a notice in January from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which urged software developers to ensure security and to not do anything that may cause the system crash, according to media reports.

Li believed that developing ticket software does not break any law, and Mo should not be punished.

Zhao Zhanling, an expert of China University of Political Science and Law, also believes that it was not right to accuse Mo of destroying the computer system.

Zhao was quoted by the Beijing News as saying that Mo's software did not damage the official ticket system owned by the Ministry of Railways, since "the software is not one of those programs that can destroy computer systems with a virus".

But it was illegal for the Mo brothers to sell the software without a valid license issued by the authorities, he said.

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