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The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai has already been declared an official success. But, like perhaps any event of this scale, the six-month Expo has also been a hotspot for scams and scandal–despite a massive effort by Chinese police and officials to ensure it proceeds smoothly. Chinese media report that some 60 suspects have been arrested this year for theft, swindling, and intellectual property rights crimes related to the Expo, and that authorities are also working to prevent commercial bribery and construction fraud during the event. Here’s some of the Expo misbehavior:
1. Fake disabled people. Visitors to the exhibits are discovering that
there is no better way to beat the long lines at popular pavilions than to fake a disability and move to a much shorter queue. From the unusual rise in wheelchair rentals alone, Expo organizers suspect that thousands of people are faking disabilities every day, according to a Shanghai Daily article. The park has fought back by requiring disabled people to show a government-issued ID proving their disability. Now, fake government IDs certifying a disability are on the rise.
2. Latvian scandal. Aerodium, the company behind the Latvian pavilion’s “vertical wind tunnel,” is accusing the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, or LIDA, a state institution, of asking for a heavy bribe in order to seal the $4.4 million Expo deal. The public scandal has turned ugly as LIDA’s director and the head of Aerodium trade personal barbs and insults, according to the Baltic Times.
3. Questionable creativity. A promotional song for the Expo called “Right Here Waiting for You in 2010″ was silenced after a flurry of furious accusations that it was plagiarized from a song written by Japanese pop singer Mayo Okamoto. Chinese Expo authorities are reportedly going to pay $3.2 million in copyright infringement fees to make the mess go away. Meanwhile, many observers have raised the question: doesn’t Expo mascot Haibao look suspiciously like the American claymation star Gumby?
4. Fakes of all kinds. Fake Expo tickets, fake hotel reservations, fake
merchandise, mountains of fake Haibao, and now fake ATMs. A bogus cash machine that steals money and user information was discovered in Beijing, raising fears that this innovative scam might migrate to the Expo, which has over 100 ATMs and bank outlets to service the flood of foreign visitors. The Shanghai Public Security Bureau has already cracked hundreds of credit card fraud cases, though most were before the Expo’s opening, according to China Daily. Now police will have to be on the lookout for rogue ATMs.