A timely warning to those wishing to purchase last minute tickets for the Beijing Olympic Games of 2008 to beware of scams and rip offs. There are some fake but very well crafted ticketing Web sites that have been duping unsuspecting members of the public out of their hard earned cash by posing as legitimate suppliers for Olympic events. In particular, one such scam site (beijingticketing.com and its mirror site beijingticketing2008.com) has, according to media reports, already ripped off many individuals, some to the tune of US $57,000.
This scam site claims to be able to source tickets for sold out sporting events, playing on the fact that many Olympic event tickets are already sold out due to huge demand. I checked out the site today and found that tickets for the opening ceremony (which were sold out some time ago) are still available from US $1,750 apiece. I guess to many people this looks like a fantastic opportunity to go to a once-in-a-lifetime event. Probing deeper into this Web site, I found many telltale signs that this site may not be quite what it claims to be. Let’s look at some of them now.
First off, the "About Us" section of the Web site offers some clues:
I found some of the statements in this page a little suspect, which raised some questions in my mind. For example: “Beijingticketing.com has been trading since 2007. We are part owned by a major international sporting events company who have over 25 years experience in obtaining the best seating at popular and sold out events.” Ok, so, if this outfit is part of a major international sporting events company with 25 years of experience, how come there is no mention of whom exactly this major company is?
Plus, as highlighted in various news reports, the contact details are inconsistent. The phone number is UK based, the office address is in Arizona. On this page it mentions that BeijingTicketing has “three international offices” —one in London, New York, and also Sydney. Alright; great, but then how come the only contact address is in Arizona?
Out of interest I decided to call the phone number given to see if I could book some tickets and I had a few questions for the sales person. Unfortunately, while the number in the UK actually connects, it just rings a few times and then goes dead. So, no luck getting tickets using the phone. Instead I decided to try out the e-ticket sales system. I selected tickets for the Tennis event and proceeded with the checkout, filled out a few standard contacts and billing forms. Then I was forwarded to the credit card information page using an SSL connection, and the tell tale padlock made its, usually reassuring, appearance. I filled in the form with obviously bogus information and interestingly, my transaction was successful!
What this suggests to me is that the backend is simply collecting personal information and is not running it through any credit transaction process at the time of collection. At the time of writing I see that this site is still live, and if you run an online search for “Olympic tickets” you will likely find that this scam site features prominently near the top of your search results.
The creators of this site have gone to great lengths to create a site that is extremely convincing, even down to the calendar of events and the amount of legitimate looking content on the site. Clearly this is the work of professional criminals looking to profit from even very savvy online users looking to enjoy an Olympic experience.
Please be careful and only ever purchase tickets to sporting events through the organizer’s official ticketing partners and watch out for too good to be true offers such as last minute tickets to sold out events. As is always the case when it comes to buying anything online, buyers beware.