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Olympic ticket scam mastermind arrested

The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

By Jennifer Cooke

Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced late last night, Sydney time, that the group, four men ages 41, 50, 51 and 54 and a 49-year-old woman were arrested, questioned and released on unconditional bail. The arrests by members of the SFO and the Metropolitan Police Service are part of an ongoing investigation into a suspected online fraud by companies including Xclusive Tickets Limited and Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality Limited (XL&H) which are both in liquidation and allegedly linked to Terence Frank Shepherd, of Blackheath in London.

Sydney Private Investigator, Ken Gamble, revealed in the Sydney Morning Herald in August, that Shepherd, 50, and associates had allegedly been involved in more than 150 online ticketing websites mostly registered to Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality Limited (XL&H).

Mr Gamble's exposure of Shepherd's name led to a flood of consumer complaints about the website http://www.olympicticketsbeijing2008.com. Over the past five years Mr Gamble has compiled a dossier showing that and other websites had been registered to XL&H, a company based in Phoenix, Arizona, that was controlled by Shepherd.

Two other men believed to be among those arrested, Geert van Meel, 51, and Alan Thomas Scott, 54, were directors of Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality Ltd, according to Mr Gamble.

As the Olympic Games began in early August this year, the International Olympic Committee received complaints from hundreds of alleged victims in Australia and the rest of the world who feared they had been duped by a website claiming to sell tickets to events.

The SFO began its investigation following referral from Britain's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in September when the Xclusive companies went into liquidation, it stated in a press release. The referral followed complaints about the failure by the online ticketing companies under the investigation to supply at least 4000 tickets for events includinf Beijing Olympic Games this year and several summer music festivals in England, including the Leeds and Reading festivals. Police raided three residences and one business address in the London area on Wednesday.

The director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman said last night: "People thinking of buying tickets online should be vigilant and always check the supplier's credentials.

"In this particular case we know that many thousand consumers lost money and suffered disappointment that they could not attend events that many of them had spent years dreaming about I urge those people who bought tickets though Xclusive to come forward with information."

He warned consumers to be "very careful" when buying tickets online for an event and to always check with the venue or promoter that the online ticket seller is authorized to buy tickets for an event.

A special questionnaire for customers of the Xclusive companies who did not receive tickets or refunds and who are willing to help with official inquiries can be found at http://www.sfo.gov.uk/investigations/

Original article

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