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Companies Behind Ticket Scamming Website Headed for Liquidation

Insolvency expert, Lane Bednash, of Valentine & Co has set up meetings for the creditors of Xclusive Tickets Ltd and Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality Ltd to begin the liquidation process. We believe there are more than 4,000 creditors who purchased non-existent tickets for events including the Beijing Olympics. You do not need to attend these meetings. Bednash will post any relevant information after the meetings for anyone who believes they were scammed by websites operated by Xclusive. Additionally, Moriarty Leyendecker attorney Jim Moriarty, who was scammed when he purchased tickets from beijingticketing.com, will be attending the meeting and we will also post information for the victims on our website. For more information, read this article posted by the BBC.

Scammer’s Web Expert Fades from Internet, But Traces Remain

It used to be easy to find information on the internet about Muhammad Ali Nasir. Nasir, who has advertised himself as an expert in search engine optimization and e-commerce, worked for years for Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality, the company thought to be the main force behind the Olympics ticketing scams, and like many members of his generation, the 30-year-old Pakistan-born Londoner lived much of his life on the World Wide Web. He could be found on Facebook, on Netlog, even on his own website. But in recent weeks that website has been emptied, he’s pulled his personal information from ezine articles he’s written, and his name and e-mail have been removed from the home page of the company he supposedly joined in June. This cleaning up began about the same time that news of the Olympics ticketing scams started to break, and could be seen by some as an effort by Nasir to cover his tracks. But covering your tracks on the internet isn’t easy, even for an expert. Traces linger, and through those traces it might be possible to find Nasir, and then through him the masterminds behind the scheme to defraud Olympics ticket buyers. For more on Nasir, go here.

Two Companies Behind Suspected Scam Website Close Down

According to a story on Mirror.Co.UK, the online edition of London’s The Daily Mirror, two companies behind the suspected scam Olympics ticketing site beijingticketing.com have gone into liquidation. Xclusive Tickets and Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality, both linked to alleged ticket-scammer Terence Shepherd, claimed that problems with suppliers forced them to close up shop. Left behind were at least 3,500 creditors owed refunds for some 18,000 never-delivered tickets. But as Xclusive Tickets and Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality shut down, two other ticketing sites connected to Shepherd, theonlineticketshop.com and theonlineticketexchange.com , continue to operate.

Make Sure the Criminals Are Brought to Justice

Anyone who has been victimized by scammers selling non-existent tickets to the 2008 Beijing Games should alert the authorities as soon as possible. The authorities cannot go after the scammers without information from those victimized. Click here for more information on how to file complaints.

Inferior Official Site Paved the Way for Scammers

Some have wondered how so many supposedly internet-savvy people were taken in by the scam Olympics tickets websites. A few have even gone so far as to suggest that ticket-buyers should have known better. But according to an analysis that compares the most notorious scam site to the Olympics’ official ticketing site, one reason the scammers succeeded is that their website was superior to the official site in nearly every way possible — in its user-friendliness, understanding of how to advance in the Google rankings, design, depth of content, appeal to the internet’s sense of community, and information about the Olympics itself. Had the official site done a better job of appealing to the needs of ticket buyers, or simply hired website people with skills equal to those of the scammers, it’s possible that fewer individuals would have been taken advantage of. For more on the analysis, go here .

Vancouver Olympic Committee Gets An Early Start

Hats off to the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC), which is already looking ahead to the 2010 Winter Olympics. VANOC is keenly aware of the problems that have plagued the Beijing Olympics: vast swaths of empty seats at events that were supposedly “sold out” and ticket scams. Articles from The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star detail VANOC’s early efforts to avoid a disastrous repeat, that include sending letters to businesses across Canada warning of ticket scams, outlining the legitimate ticket purchase process, using bar coded tickets, and allocating unused corporate sponsor tickets.

Empty Seats Demystified

China has had a hard time explaining how “sold out” events have contained so many empty seats, particularly to those scrambling to get tickets after being scammed. Reports from Business Week and The Los Angeles Times say that bad weather, unused tickets allocated to sponsors and VIPs, difficulty in obtaining visas, and hoarders are all being blamed.

What’s Really Going on Behind the Scenes in Beijing

As frustrations over empty seats continue to raise eyebrows, The Canberra Times and The UK Times take a critical look at the 2008 Games. Internet bloggers paint an unpleasant picture of the Chinese government, with allegations of restricted ticket sales, censoring of the Opening Ceremonies, and prohibitions against local citizens gathering to watch the events.

Visa and American Express in Australia Do the Right Thing

Great news: An individual in Australia who was scammed out of a significant amount of money has let us know that American Express and Visa in Australia have refunded 100% of his money, even though he did not dispute the charges within the time periods required by American Express and Visa. We are hopeful that credit card companies across the world will follow this great example.

First Time Olympian's Family Gets Tickets

Congratulations to the Lim family, who despite being scammed was able to get tickets to watch their daughter, Lynette Lim, a first-time Olympian for Singapore, compete in all of her swimming events. Lynette will be competing on August 14, 2008 at 7:10 P.M. in the 800 meter freestyle, so be sure to cheer her on to victory!

Parents’ Plight Moves Businessman to Help with Tickets

When a Beijing-based British businessman read how the parents of an Olympic swimmer had been scammed by beijingticketing.com, and as a result didn’t have the tickets they needed to watch from the stands as their daughter won a gold medal, he was upset — so upset that he decided he would help other Olympics parents who were ripped off by the fraudulent websites get tickets to an Olympic event. The businessman, Mike Graham, hopes to use his Beijing connections to find the hard-to-come-by tickets.

Chinese Claim to be Harsh on Scalpers

Olympics officials may have allowed internet ticket scammers to operate more or less unmolested, but the Chinese claim that when it comes to people trying to scalp tickets — real or otherwise — on the ground in Beijing, they’re meting out harsh punishment. Police have said that any scalper can be detained for up to 15 days, and even sent to “re-education camps.” The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau announced in May that they had caught 316 scalpers, detained more than 200, and sentenced at least two to forced labor. Despite all this, according to reports by the Associated Press and Bloomberg , touts continue to offer tickets to those hoping to see Olympic events. The going price for the tickets is up to ten times their face value — expensive, but still better than paying for tickets that never existed, as those scammed by fake Olympics tickets websites did.

Suspected Scam Sites Still Operating

The 2008 Beijing Games may have begun, and crowds may be making their way into Olympic events, but that doesn’t mean the suspected scam Olympics tickets websites have all closed up shop. While the most notorious of the sites, beijingticketing.com, has gone dark, another suspected site, chinaolympic2008tickets.com, remains active. And it is still offering tickets to the closing ceremonies — despite the fact that all closing ceremony tickets were supposed to have been bought or transferred by July 30. Yet another of the allegedly bogus sites, beijing-2008tickets.com, shut down, but then it opened up again as beijing-2008tickets.net. The URL may have gone from .com to .net, but that’s about all that’s changed. Beijing-2008tickets.net also continues to offer closing ceremony tickets for sale, along with tickets to pretty much everything else at the Olympics. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, another website connected to Terence Shepherd, the man thought behind beijinigticketing.com, was offering Olympics tickets as late as last Friday, though as of today it had ceased operations. The Herald also identified xclusiveticket.com as being connected to Shepherd. While it no longer offers Olympics tickets, xclusiveticket.com remains up and running, and continues to tout tickets to numerous sporting and music events. It’s clear that ticket buyers still need to be cautious when buying tickets online. What is less clear is what the IOC is doing about these sites, now that it can no longer claim to be unaware of them.

Side-by-Side Comparison Shows Media Slow Reacting to Fraud

Though the USOC and the IOC filed suit on July 22 against beijingticketing.com and Beijing-2008tickets.com, naming them as among websites suspected of defrauding Olympics tickets buyers, more than a week later MSNBC/Forbes Traveler was still touting the sites to its readers. A side-by-side comparison of older and newer versions of the story “Beijing’s Gold-Medal Hotels” reveals what MSNBC/Forbes Traveler was publishing as late as July 30, and what they are publishing today. The correction to the story, a change not acknowledged in the later version, was made July 31. A third website promoted by MSNBC/Forbes Traveler in the original version of its story, chinaolympic2008tickets.com, is also suspected of being a scam site.

Ringleader Named: Man Thought Behind Scams Identified

The man believed to be the brains behind Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality, a key player in the alleged Olympics ticketing scam, has been identified as 49-year-old Englishman Terance Shepherd. A private investigator who has been tracking Shepherd for years says he has no question that Shepherd, who has been connected to numerous ticket scams in the past, is the man responsible for dashing the dreams of thousands of Olympic ticket hopefuls. Shepherd, who according to at least one report owns a multi-million dollar mansion in London, may now be in Barbados, the investigator says. Stories on Shepherd can be found here, here, here, and here ..

Media Among Those Duped by Olympics Scammers

According to various stories about the Olympics tickets scams, everyone from travel agents to lawyers to computer security experts were taken in by the fraudulent websites. Now it appears the media was taken in as well. In February, the magazine Forbes Traveler, which is hosted on MSNBC.com, ran an article titled Beijing’s Gold-Medal Hotels that featured travel suggestions for those going to the Olympics. In the section on tickets, the Forbes reporter recommended five websites. The first three listed are all now suspected of being fraudulent, and the one at the top of the list, beijingticketing.com, is also at the top of the list on the lawsuit filed by the USOC and IOC in California. Forbes Traveler recently altered its story to remove the list of suspect websites. There is, however, no acknowledgement made of the original error, a failure that has received some criticism.

New Details On Credit Card Refunds Available

The section of our FAQs page about what rights consumers have to obtain refunds from their credit card companies has been updated with the latest information available. The update includes a publication by the Federal Trade Commission on fair credit billing and a letter from American Express to a consumer who was a victim of an Olympics tickets scam.

$46 Million Worth of Non-Existent Tickets Sold

According to reports, a single website, beijingticketing.com, may have sold as much as $46 million worth of Olympics tickets that never existed. Beijingticketing.com is, according to a lawsuit filed by the USOC, one of the websites owned by Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality Ltd.Click here for the story.

Google Australia Removes Links to Scam Websites

Responding to concerns raised by an Australian newspaper, Google Australia has removed from its search engine sponsored links to websites thought involved in online Olympics ticketing scams. While Google Australia has responded to consumer concerns by moving to distance itself from the alleged scam websites, in the United States Google, as of Monday afternoon, had not followed suit. Searches using Google in the U.S. still bring up at least one sponsored link, beijing-2008tickets.net, now banned from Australian search engines.Click here for the story.

Australia Gets Slow Start on Scam Sites

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Australia’s government only got around to warning people about scam Olympics tickets websites yesterday — even though information about such sites was available as long as five months ago. The story also quotes a spokesman for Visa as saying the company heard about the fake websites only yesterday, and blaming banks for allowing the sites’ merchants onto the Visa network.

Extra Olympics Tickets Available Soon, Says USOC Official

Kelly Maser, Associate General Counsel for the U.S. Olympic Committee, announced Sunday that the USOC’s official ticket distributor, Jet Set Sports/CoSport, has been given an additional allocation of tickets to sell. Maser noted that those who were victimized by fraudulent Olympics tickets websites could receive early notice of ticket availability by sending her their contact information.

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Tickets Scams Plus Tight Security Could Cause Chaos

As opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics approach, some security experts are warning that the Chinese government’s attempt to monitor who gets into events through the use of high-tech tickets could create turmoil at the turnstiles. Adding to the problem may be a rush of Olympics fans trying to replace the tickets they lost to online scams by buying them from other ticket-holders.

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Man Linked to Olympics Tickets Scammers

A man who might well be able to identify those behind the Olympics tickets scam has been located. The lawyers investigating the possible fraud have identified London-based computer consultant Ali Nasir, a self-described expert on e-commerce, as being linked to Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality LTD, the parent firm to at least one of the websites identified as having made fraudulent promises to deliver Olympics tickets.

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Tickets Scam Known About for Months

As long ago as March, a reader of the Washington Post’s Coming and Going column raised an alarm about online ticket brokers selling tickets to the Beijing Olympics. His warnings focused on a website the USOC now agrees is fraudulent, and filed suit against on July 22. Despite the early warning, the website was allowed to continue operating. (Item is titled “Games Playing,” and is the second in the column.)

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