Ticketing scam costs HK woman US$2,000

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2008, 12:00am

A Hong Kong resident who spent US$2,000 on tickets for the Olympic equestrian events yesterday found she was the victim of a worldwide scam.

Helen Williams received a mass e-mail overnight from 'Alan Scott' of beijingticketing.com, telling her the company's suppliers 'have not been able to honour their commitments to us in supplying tickets for the summer Olympics'.

She learned of the scam shortly afterwards and has been trying to find replacement tickets, especially for her brother and his girlfriend who arrived from Britain last night specifically to watch the equestrian events at Sha Tin and Beas River.

'Obviously, you feel quite raw and that your intelligence has been insulted,' said Ms Williams, who bought the tickets on June 12, the same day that an additional 60,000 equestrian tickets went on sale in Hong Kong.

'I did quite a lot of research and there was nothing on the internet or on the blogs to previously suggest it was not real.'

It was reported on Monday that the International Olympic Committee was trying to shut down several websites that were fraudulently offering tickets for the Games.

Ms Williams, who works for a bank, bought eight tickets for the cross-country competition on Monday at US$250 each, more than 25 times the HK$71 charged by the official ticketing agent, China Travel Service (CTS). She has since contacted her credit card company in Britain, which would not confirm whether her money would be refunded.

She said she had recommended the site to friends, and one couple who bought tickets for the cross-country competition had received the same e-mail. 'Everything on that site looked legitimate,' she said.

Last week she became worried because the tickets had not been delivered as she had been told they would.

Although she is a Hong Kong resident, Ms Williams said she had used the website because she had seen an article in a local magazine about the site and believed the only other way to buy tickets was in person at a travel agency. She was unaware CTS was the official ticketing agency and that she could buy tickets online through the CTS website. She said she did not come across the website in her search for Olympics tickets.

'I'm gutted. Really disappointed, purely because I've got two people flying from the UK for this.'

Equestrian Company spokesman Mark Pinkstone said tickets for each session had sold out and the company was unable to help secure additional tickets.

'The only thing I can say is that people should be wary of where they purchase their tickets from. There is only one official ticket vendor and people should also be wary of the source of tickets being sold second-hand.' He said he had not previously received any complaints about a ticketing scam.