A national hotline for victims duped into buying non-existant Olympic Games tickets was opened this morning, as news publications around the world reported stories of people that have been ripped off anywhere from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars by Web sites selling fake tickets to the Beijing summer games.
ABC radio this morning reported that former opposition leader Kerry Chikarovski was among the victims of the US-based Web site Beijingticketing.com, which is believed to have sold thousands of fake tickets.
Chikarovski said her suspicions were aroused after the tickets she had purchased failed to arrive, telling ABC radio that she lost more than $300 while a friend of hers lost $24,000.
"If you put Beijing Olympic tickets into Google this was the first site that came up, and in fact it came up ahead of the official Chinese Olympic site, so how is it that a site like that could have operated at least 11 months, if not longer, without anyone in officialdom taking any sort or action against them?" Chikarovski said.
According to the former leader of the Liberal party, the Beijingticketing.com Web site looked incredibly professional. However, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said the AOC had made it quite clear on numerous occasions that the only official Olympic Games ticket seller in Australia was CoSport.
"They are the only official group accredited by the IOC to sell tickets in our Australian territory," Coates said on ABC radio, adding that parents of Australian softball representatives had also fallen victim to the scam.
we are special for providing sold out event tickets in very economical prices...For being in the ticket market since a long time we have become very popular in football fans and music lovers
Fair Trading Minister, Linda Burney, told Computerworld that although the Beijingticketing.com site looked fairly sophisticated and was a widespread international scam, a wary eye could identify several inconsistencies.
"You can see on face value how people could be duped by it, but on closer inspection the internal sections of the [Beijing Olympic Games] logo are quite different and the colour schemes are different...also the grammar and English is very, very poor," she said.
The dodgy site says it has offices in London, New York and Sydney, stating in error-ridden grammar: "we are special for providing sold out event tickets in very economical prices...For being in the ticket market since a long time we have become very popular in football fans and music lovers."
On a large Web site like an official Olympic Games site, Burney said, you would expect the grammar and English to be up to scratch.
"But clearly a number of people have lost some fairly significant amounts of money."