Aussies caught up in Olympic ticket scam

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Olympic officials will ask a judge in California on Monday to shut down an online Beijing Olympics ticket seller accused of scamming Australian, US and European sports fans and travel agents out of tens of thousands of dollars.
The slick, professional-looking website, www.beijingticketing.com, boasts offices in Sydney, London and New York.
It is believed the offices do not exist.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has received complaints from hundreds of alleged victims in Australia and the rest of the world who fear they have been duped.
Some customers handed over more than $US57,000 ($A60,600) each for tickets, but received nothing back.
The people behind the website appear to have vanished just days before the opening ceremony in Beijing.
The only address on the website leads to an office in Phoenix, Arizona, but desperate fans hoping to travel to Beijing discovered another dead end when they visited the office.
The office was empty.
When AAP repeatedly called the phone number on the website, it rang out.
Texas-based travel agent, Jolanta Sochacka, is one of the scam's biggest victims.
Sochacka told the Los Angeles Times newspaper she purchased $US57,000 ($A60,600) worth of tickets for a family of seven but has not sighted the tickets.
When Sochacka asked a friend in Phoenix to check out the address, the friend found an empty office and no sign the company ever resided there.
"I've been in business for 18 years, I'm aware that there's fraud out there," Sochacka told the LA Times.
"But they looked so legitimate, their website was so elaborate."
The IOC and the US Olympic Committee (USOC) have had success in shutting another suspected Beijing Olympics ticket website scam down.
On July 23 they won a restraining order in Phoenix to close www.beijing-tickets2008.com.
On Monday, the IOC and USOC will ask a federal judge in San Francisco for an order to shutdown beijingticketing.com
The FBI may become involved in the investigation.
Other apparent victims of beijingticketing.com include internet entrepreneurs and software developers, who say despite their own expertise and experience with the internet, they were fooled by the elaborate website.
The site boasts: "We manage our extensive network of ticket agents through our three international offices - London, New York and Sydney".
David Boctor, a Los Angeles Internet entrepreneur who runs his own online retail store, paid beijingticketing.com $US11,505 ($A12,230) for hard-to-get tickets to the Olympic opening ceremony, swimming and diving.
He told the LA Times he became suspicious when the company stopped answering his phone calls in April and his credit card was charged for airline tickets he did not buy.
"If I failed to recognise this internet scam, very few other individuals with less of an e-commerce background would have had a chance," Boctor said.
"So I can empathise with others in the same position."
Another computer savvy victim California-based victim, Jonathan Murray, bought $US4,950 ($A5,260) for Olympic equestrian events.
"I work for a fairly large software company, and the team I manage is responsible for dealing with Internet crime," Murray, originally from Britain, told the newspaper.
"So it was quite amusing to everyone at work that I had been scammed on the internet.
"The important point I'm making by talking about this is that this was a bloody good scam."
Meanwhile in Beijing, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) deputy chef de mission Lynne Bates said everyone involved in the Olympic family had been encouraged to purchase tickets through the official CoSport agency to avoid such problems.
"Of course it's disappointing," she told reporters in Beijing.
"We realise and understand that the IOC are looking to shut down and take further action on that website.
"But we at the Australian Olympic Committee of course have encouraged everyone, all our shadow team members, everybody that's part of the Olympic family, and advertised it very very widely, that CoSport are our official ticket agent and encouraged all enquiries and everybody to go that way.
"So hopefully there's not too many (affected), but as I say all the people that have followed the co-sport line will be fine."

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