Internet scam hits Beijing Games

DQW Bureau
New Update


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced it was taking action to

shut down the fraudsters, but the move came too late to help the victims find

replacement seats at the Games.

Among those left out of were the families of Olympic athletes in both

Australia and New Zealand, with people in the United States, Japan, Norway,

China and Britain also reportedly conned by the sophisticated sting.

"We cannot accept people paying money for tickets and not getting them," said

Gerhard Heiberg, an IOC executive board member.


Heiberg said the issue was raised earlier too, with both the IOC and the

United States Olympic Committee filing a lawsuit in a district court in

California, accusing at least six websites of selling illegitimate or

nonexistent tickets.

However, a US lawyer who said he had lost $12,000 in the fraud, accused the

IOC of complacency.

"They have known about these sites for months and months and did nothing,"

said Jim Moriarty, the partner of a Houston-based law firm, which is looking to

represent fellow victims in any subsequent legal actions.


"They have dashed the hopes and dreams of thousands of people who have been

planning for years to go to the Games, and have already paid thousands of

dollars for airfare and what they thought were legitimate tickets," he told


Still up and running

Despite IOC suit, one of the sites accused of fraud- was still operating, offering seats for numerous

events, including opening cere­mony, with prices topping $2,150.


The professional-looking site, which carries the official Beijing Games logo,

provides a London phone number and a US address in Phoenix, Arizona.Aust ralia's

Olympic Committee (AOC) offered comm­iserations but no solutions to the scores

of Australians left out of pocket.

"Our sympathy goes to them but we certainly aren't in a position to step in,

compensate or find other tickets," said John Coates, Chief, AOC.

"We warned folks to only deal with authorized ticket suppliers," he said. The

press reported that some Australian nationals had been swindled out of almost

$45,000. Moriarty said one unnamed individual had lost $57,000."The worst thing

is that some people don't even know yet that they bought tickets that won't

arrive," he said.


"Some were told they could pick up the tickets at an office in Beijing, and

they won't be there. My guess is they sold thousands of tickets that don't


Tickets for events in host city Beijing completely sold out, Games organizers

said, leaving only seats for competitions in co-host cities still available.

Many tickets are still being offered on the e-Bay auction website, but

Australia's Coates urged caution. "There may be tickets on e-Bay that are

delivered but I think it is a great risk. That would be my message," he said.