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Reputed Olympic ticket scam mastermind arrested.



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RN PM Reputed Olympic ticket scam mastermind arrested

27/11/2008

Reputed Olympic ticket scam mastermind arrested

PM - Thursday, 27 November , 2008 18:44:00

MARK COLVIN: Police in Britain have arrested five people believed to be behind an Olympic ticket scam which tricked sports fans in dozens of countries including Australia.

The fans assumed that they were dealing with authorised ticket sellers but their promised tickets for the Beijing Games never came.

The five arrested in Britain are linked to online ticket companies which are now in liquidation.

Brendan Trembath reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: In early August as the Beijing Olympics began hundreds of sports fans around the world realised they'd been cheated.

The tickets they'd booked online never showed up.

Fraud experts said it would be difficult to track down the people behind the scam.

But now British authorities have conducted a series of raids and made five arrests.

RICHARD ALDERMAN: We know that over 4,000 people did not receive tickets they paid for.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Richard Alderman is the director of the Serious Fraud Office and an interview with him has been posted on the agency's website.

He's asked people who did not receive tickets to visit the site and fill in a questionnaire.

RICHARD ALDERMAN: Many people who saved very hard to buy these tickets, who were really looking forward to these occasions.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Sports fans in 60 countries were sucked in by the scam. The Internet-based ticket sellers had official-looking websites, which offered tickets for every Olympic event from archery to weightlifting.

The former New South Wales opposition leader Kerry Chikarovski was a high profile victim. She spent about $300 on tickets which never arrived.

It was not only sports fans stung by the ticket scam. The companies also sold tickets for music festivals.

One of the five people arrested is Terence Frank Shephard, who's reputed to be the mastermind of the ticket swindle.

Sydney private investigator Ken Gamble is familiar with Mr Shephard's activities.

KEN GAMBLE: He ran the website that duped a lot of people into paying money for tickets that never existed. He has since been investigated by a number of different authorities once that was exposed up in Beijing and now as a result of police investigations he has been charged.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Mr Gamble what was your interest in him?

KEN GAMBLE: I was investigating a separate matter back in the Rugby World Cup last year. He was involved in a number of ticketing sites at the rugby and I was asked to put together a dossier on him last year at the Rugby World Cup.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: And did this also involve sporting tickets that did not arrive despite promises?

KEN GAMBLE: It did but there was no charges or anything like that but there were sites that he was involved with that were selling non-existent tickets. We were aware of that and we did report it to the authorities at the time.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: If there are successful prosecutions in Britain, what hope is there for the Australians who appear to have been swindled?

KEN GAMBLE: Well there's a good hope. What people have to do is make sure that they lodge complaints because they have been defrauded.

This is not a business that's had some bad luck. This is an individual or group of individuals that have set out to cheat as many people as they can.

So they have to obviously lodge a criminal complaint with the police and obviously, probably try and make some sort of claim because I understand that some of the money has been seized by authorities. I don't know how much but I know that all of his assets have been seized and some funds have been seized.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: I see so although it's on the other side of the world it's still worth contacting the British authorities

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to make a complaint with them.

KEN GAMBLE: Absolutely. I would encourage everybody to make a claim because the more people that make a claim the more unlikely that something like this will ever happen again.

MARK COLVIN: Private investigator Ken Gamble with Brendan Trembath.

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