VANOC CFO talks ticket scam

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency



VANCOUVER - Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics sold thousands of tickets to scammers who used stolen Visa card numbers, chief financial officer John McLaughlin admitted Wednesday.

He didn’t have an exact number, but he said a ticket-scalping ring committed $2 million in fraud on the official resale website. Vancouver Police arrested three Latvians in late February. The three were deported.

Payments to 220 people who listed their tickets on the Fan-to-Fan Marketplace were delayed. Cheques are supposed to be processed this week.

McLaughlin said the transactions were approved and the criminals scalped tickets to prime events. When irregularities were spotted, police were called.

“Could we pick it up earlier? I suppose, but it’s challenging because you have to look at what the (buying) patterns are,” McLaughlin said. “The site itself was secure, it was the cards that were compromised.”

McLaughlin said VANOC is hoping insurance will cover the $2 million loss.

The RCMP warned VANOC before the Games that ticket fraud was a risk. VANOC took a 20 percent cut of transactions on the Fan-to-Fan Marketplace, an Olympic first that was advertised as the safest, most secure way to buy and sell tickets.

Meanwhile, VANOC will send 35 people to Sochi, Russia for a June 6-11 debriefing conference to discuss lessons learned with organizers of the 2014 Winter Games.

The Vancouver Games’ official coffee table book, With Glowing Hearts, will be published in June.

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