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Chinese police arrest alleged Expo con artist
Thu, Feb 04, 2010
AFP

SHANGHAI- Chinese police have arrested a man who they accuse of posing as an official in charge of construction projects linked to Shanghai's World Expo, state media reported Thursday.

Prosecutors say the man falsely claimed to be head of a planned housing project for residents who were forced to move when their homes were demolished to make way for the Expo site, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The man, identified only by his surname Zha, is accused of defrauding construction supply companies of 360,000 yuan ($52,700), the report said.

Using fake documents claiming his connections to the Expo bureau, the man signed three contracts to buy 3,000 tonnes of steel and steel pipes for the housing project, the newspaper said.

After signing the contracts, Zha began to borrow money from the steel supplier's representative, claiming variously that he needed the cash for entertaining expenses and buying other materials, the report said.

Prosecutors said Zha also falsely claimed to be building a parking garage for the Expo.

Zha arranged for a separate supply company to provide wooden boards for the "garage" and demanded 10,000 yuan ($1465)  as a guarantee that the goods would arrive on time, the newspaper said.

The wood supplier called police after Zha subsequently disappeared with the money.

Shanghai is in the midst of a construction boom as it prepares for the six-month World Expo beginning May 1, which organisers expect will attract up to 100 million visitors.

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