A civil servant was arrested on Thursday after he was found to have
used a self-designed computer program to assist people buying train
tickets on the Internet for the coming Chinese New Year holiday.
The 31-year-old suspect, identified by his last name as Lin, denied
that he had profiteered from helping other people buy train tickets.
Lin, however, did admit that he collected an undisclosed amount for
providing this service, but said that the money was used to maintain
his Web site "As U Wish."
Black-market prices have doubled since tickets for the holiday period
were bought up in only a few hours after the Taiwan Railway
Administration began selling tickets a few weeks ago.
With the help of the TRA and Chunghwa Telecom Co., agents from the
Bureau of Criminal Investigation found Lin at his residence in Taipei
City and asked him to come in for questioning at the BCI.
Lin took advantage of a "virtual cash" mechanism set up by Internet
banks to charge people for his service. Lin used his own program,
which could repeatedly reload applications into the TRA's computer
system until they accepted, to help people who wished to buy tickets
intercept tickets returned by passengers who had canceled their
A BCI spokesman said Lin was not the first one who has been arrested
for taking advantage of the TRA's automatic reservation system for
personal gain. Three other computer programmers were arrested and
indicted on similar charges last year.
Lin may be fined and sentenced to a prison term of up to five years
for interfering with other people's use of their computers and for
misusing his own computer to the degree of damaging public interests,
which constitute being an offense of Article 360 and 361 of the
The TRA set up a new reservation system several years ago to allow
passengers to make reservations through the Internet, so they did not
have to line up before ticket booths for a few days as they had to do
in the past in order to buy tickets.
Still, train tickets for long holidays are still difficult to get hold
of because scalpers often buy up tickets and then sell them for much
While investigating the case, BCI agents were surprised by the fact
that many Internet banks did not even try to verify the identities of
those who use their "virtual cash" mechanisms in transferring money
into Lin's bank account.
The BCI spokesman warned that criminals may take advantage of this
loophole in Internet banking operations to commit crimes. He urged the
authorities concerned to contact local banks in order to find ways to
resolve problems related to Internet banking services.
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