Monday, August 4, 2008
Judge may shutter Web site selling Olympics tix
SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Olympic Committee asked a federal judge Monday for the second time to shut down a Web site it alleges is fraudulently selling tickets to the Beijing Games.
Lawyers for the USOC want the judge to permanently disable beijingticketing.com, which they contend has scammed numerous U.S. residents out of thousands of dollars by falsely promising to deliver tickets to the games starting Friday.
The site was apparently disabled by its operators Monday, but the lawyers want the court order to make the take down permanent. A USOC lawyer said company managers notified customers via e-mail Monday morning that the promised tickets would not be delivered. The e-mail advised patrons to contact their credit card companies.
A federal judge in Phoenix last week ordered another Web site shut down for allegedly operating a similar scam.
"We have tried to draw the attention of the public to fraudulent tickets," said Beijing organizing committee spokesman Sun Weide, adding Chinese Olympic officials are "very supportive of any investigation into cases of fraudulent tickets or any illegal activities related to the sale of tickets."
A London telephone number posted on the accused Web site was disconnected, and company representatives did not respond to questions sent by The Associated Press through e-mail.
USOC lawyer Diana Torres said she did not know how many alleged victims purchased tickets from the Web site, but she provided the judge with statements from about a dozen patrons who said they paid for tickets they never received.
"We are taking this action to protect consumers from web site operators who may be engaged in fraudulent efforts to sell tickets that don?t exist," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. "It is important for consumers to recognize that, in the United States, the only authorized and licensed entity for the sale of Olympic tickets online is CoSport."
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White initially refused to shutter the Web site after the USOC filed a lawsuit on July 22 and showed him evidence that a private investigator paid $1,905 for tickets he never received.
White said the private investigator's experience wasn't enough reason to close the site. USOC's lawyers then reworked their lawsuit and submitted statements from additional patrons before repeating their request Monday.
"People have purchased tickets since we were last here," Torres told the judge, adding that the games begin Friday.
The judge said he would rule soon.