Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 15:14 UK

Online ticket scams are shut down

By Ben Ando
BBC crime correspondent

The Ashes second test
Top sporting events, like the Ashes series, attract many ticket scams

Police have shut down more than 100 websites which were conning people desperate to get tickets to top sporting and entertainment events.

The sites looked genuine and their offers were enticing. Hard or impossible-to-get tickets for sporting fixtures were expensive, but worth it to many fans.

Internet forums are littered with despairing messages from those who used the sites. Many parted with hundreds of pounds for tickets, but received nothing.

One anonymous writer said her boyfriend bought tickets for Bruce Springsteen in Rome from one of the sites taken down on Friday.

The tickets were £195 and the couple also paid out for air fares and accommodation, to make it the trip of a lifetime.

But the tickets were fake - and with no concert, the trip to Italy became a waste of money; she was left feeling disappointed and unable to believe people can be so "selfish and deceiving".

'Victim's desire'

Experts at the recently formed Police Central e-crime Unit - a national organisation largely staffed by officers from New Scotland Yard - estimate that there were at least 140 websites selling scam Premiership football tickets.

Now, in the biggest operation of its kind ever mounted, they have closed down more than 100 of them.

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, from the PCeU said: "Fraudsters capitalise on the victim's desire to attend an event knowing that they will pay out for the opportunity to be present at that all important one-off event.

"The risk begins when your desire to purchase the tickets blinds your judgment or leads you to unlawful websites. If it looks too good to be true it probably is.

He said the operation sent "a clear message to those who abuse the internet for their own criminal gains that we will not tolerate this type of activity".

Olympics scam

Getting the sites shut down is a complex business. Most are based abroad, and the only leverage the police can get is by approaching Icann (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers), the organisation that registers all website addresses and owners.

The police use legislation originally introduced in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, in which 96 football fans lost their lives in a crush at one end of the ground.

The rules were originally aimed at touts selling unlawful tickets outside football grounds, but they are now being used to stop such sales over the internet.

Nonetheless, detectives admit that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and as soon as one site is shut down another will spring up - hence the need for members of the public to remain vigilant.

And it is not just football. Officers say they have already found scam sites selling tickets for events at the London Olympics in 2012 - even though no tickets for any part of the 2012 games have yet been made available.



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SEE ALSO
Scheme targets ticket sale scams
22 Jul 09 |  Business
Music fans warned of ticket scams
23 Mar 09 |  England
Ticket complaints soar in August
22 Aug 08 |  Entertainment

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