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International Ticket Scam Hits Beijing Olympic Fans

August 4, 2008

An international Internet scam has offered thousands of fake tickets to sports fans for the Beijing Games, according to Olympic officials on Monday.

Some who were affected by the scam include family members of Olympic athletes from Australia and New Zealand. Fans in the United States, Japan, Norway, China and Britain were also reportedly conned.

“We cannot accept people paying money for tickets and not getting them,” said Gerhard Heiberg, an International Olympic Committee executive board member.

The IOC has launched an initiative aimed at shutting down the thieves, but the move came too late to help victims find replacement seats.

Heiberg said the issue was raised last week, with both the IOC and the United States Olympic Committee filing a lawsuit on Friday in a district court in California, accusing at least six websites of selling illegitimate or nonexistent tickets.

However, a U.S. 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 the Games, and have already paid thousands of dollars for airfare and what they thought were legitimate tickets,” he said.

What’s more, one site accused of fraud — www.beijingticketing.com — still remained online on Monday. The site carries the official Beijing Games logo, offers numerous seats for events including Friday’s opening ceremony.

Australia’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,” AOC chief John Coates said on Monday.

“We warned folk to only deal with authorized ticket suppliers,” he told a news conference.

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 exist.”

Image Caption: The National Olympic Sports Center Stadium, which was established in 1990, was once the stadium of the time due to its holding of the 11th Beijing Asian Games. In the 1990s of the 20th century, it was outstanding with its advanced facilities among national stadiums. As the years passed, this once splendid stadium looks old. Now, after a thorough transformation, this aged stadium of glory is present in a fresh manner, waiting for the forthcoming “Good Luck Beijing” 2007 Modern Pentathlon World Cup Final.

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