Fake tickets found out at Louvre

Updated: 2013-09-14 02:03

By Li Xiang (China Daily)

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Chinese tourists caught with counterfeits

The Louvre Museum in Paris, one of the world's largest and most-visited museums, has been hit by a fake ticket scam after high-quality counterfeits were found in the hands of Chinese tourists in August, French media reported.

French police have launched an investigation after Belgian customs officers seized a package sent from China containing 3,600 fake entry tickets for the museum worth at least 144,000 euros ($191,388), according to reports.

The incident also sparked sharp criticism on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, with many Chinese Internet users calling it a shameful incident that "seriously damages the image of Chinese people".

The Louvre, housing the Mona Lisa painting and the Venus de Milo sculpture, is one of the French capital's most-visited tourist sites, attracting more than 9 million people a year. Standard tickets for the museum cost between 11.6 euros (94 yuan) and 13.6 euros.

The media office of the Louvre said the museum is cooperating with the police on the investigation but declined to disclose any details when contacted by China Daily.

A media officer who asked not to be named told China Daily that the museum is considering introducing an electronic ticket system to prevent future forgeries. But she added the decision is a long-term project that was initiated before the scam was discovered.

French newspaper Le Parisien reported Louvre staff were first alerted on Aug 12 when a guide accompanying a group of Chinese tourists handed in some unusually poor-quality tickets.

"The tickets had a strange texture and the general quality of the paper wasn't good," a Louvre management source was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

But some additional fake tickets seized two days later were found to be of "very good quality, perfect clones of the real tickets", according to the report.

Two Chinese people were arrested on Aug 19 with a dozen of the forgeries. French police suspect the organizers of the fake ticket network may have acted with the complicity of several Chinese tourist agencies.

Tickets for the Louvre Museum are printed in black and white on basic paper that makes fraud easier. Although no counterfeits have been discovered since late August, the museum has remained highly cautious. Louvre staff said the damage caused by the fake tickets will be difficult to establish.

Since the Louvre scam, other museums and tourists sites in Paris have raised their vigilance against fake tickets. The Musee d'Orsay, the fourth most-visited museum in Paris, which houses the world's largest collection of impressionist masterpieces, said it will install new ticketing software in the spring of 2014 so that all tickets can be validated by scanners.