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‘If it sounds too good to be true it usually is’: London 2012 Olympic fans warned about bogus ticket sites

By Helen Le Caplain

Olympic fans are being warned not to be conned by the growing number of sophisticated fake online ticketing sites.

Trading Standards officers are concerned that people, finding that an event is sold out, are buying tickets at inflated prices from bogus websites and never receive their tickets.

In such circumstances the scam companies cannot be contacted and people lose their money.

Angela Lomax, manager at Bury Trading Standards, said: “A sold-out event means it is sold out. For some, the temptation of a website still offering tickets will be too great, even at inflated prices.

“In most cases tickets will never be delivered. Attempts to contact the website usually come to nothing, or the consumer is told they will be given the tickets at the event, which just postpones the inevitable bitter disappointment.

“As always – if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Recent research from the Office of Fair Trading reveals that one in 12 ticket buyers have been caught out by scam ticket websites, with victims losing an average of £80.

Major events such as the Olympics and large music festivals and concerts are prime targets for ticket scammers.

Officers have compiled a list of tips for buying tickets online:

1. How has the website got the tickets to sell? Check with the event organiser to find out when tickets are being released for sale and when the tickets will be sent out. Are they selling tickets to events that haven’t gone on sale yet? Are they guaranteeing you tickets to events that have been sold out for months?

2. Who is the website registered to? And how long has it been registered?

3. Find out what are others saying about the website. Search the internet to find out what other people’s experiences have been.

4. How can you contact the company behind the website? Check that you know their full geographic address and that they have a working landline phone number.

5. Can they provide ticket details? Ensure that the face value of the tickets and the seat location/area are clearly listed and consistent with the event’s official website.

6. Do they provide refunds? Make sure there is a refund policy in case something goes wrong.

7.Pay for tickets by credit card. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, as amended, the card issuer is jointly liable for the failure to provide goods or services provided that the cash price of a single ticket is over £100 (but not more than £30,000). If you paid by debit card you are not covered by section 75 and there is no legal obligation on the card provider to reimburse you. You may, though, be able to ask for money back under the ‘chargeback’ procedure operated by members of the Visa and Mastercard schemes – speak to your bank to see if this is possible.

Anyone who suspects they have been scammed is urged to report it by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06.

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