Olympic ticket scammers not deported

By Bob Mackin, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER – Three men from Latvia busted in a $2 million Olympic ticket scam were not deported from Canada, QMI Agency has learned.

Canada Border Services Agency released Arturs Abroskins before a scheduled 48-hour detention review on May 19, according to Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada spokeswoman Paula Faber.

Abroskins’s Provincial Court probation conditions, however, say “you are to leave Canada before the 11th of June, 2010.”

He pleaded guilty March 19 in Vancouver Provincial Court to defrauding the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee of Olympic tickets over $5,000 between Feb. 19 and 25. The Crown stayed a charge of fraudulently possessing stolen credit card data. Judge Jocelyn Palmer sentenced Abroskins to three months jail and three months probation. He already served 23 days in custody.

Maris Latvijas Avens and Andris Stuks were charged Feb. 27. Charges against Avens were stayed but Stuks pleaded guilty March 26 to fraud over $5,000. He was sentenced to one-month probation and a day in jail after serving a month in custody. Stuks’s probation order said he was “not to be found in the City of Vancouver” after 12 noon on March 30.

Faber said Avens was released after an admissibility hearing and 48-hour detention review March 30. Faber said she had no record of Stuks.

CBSA spokeswoman Faith St. John referred questions about the three cases to the IRB.

“The CBSA can only confirm a removal once it has taken place,” St. John said.

Their current whereabouts could not be confirmed by QMI. Lawyer Adi Glouberman represented Abroskins and Avens, but said she had no involvement with them after Provincial Court.

The men entered Canada legally via Great Britain using their own passports. Vancouver Police believe they were low-level runners in a 30-person ticket-scalping ring that used stolen Visa card numbers to buy Olympic tickets for resale. Olympic sponsor Visa was the only credit card accepted by VANOC.

VANOC chief financial officer John McLaughlin said “thousands” of tickets were bought with stolen Visa card numbers and scalped. He conceded that VANOC approved the transactions but he is hoping insurance will cover the $2 million loss.

“The site itself was secure, it was the cards that were compromised,” McLaughlin said.

VANOC promoted its December 2009-launched Fan-to-Fan Marketplace as the only secure method to buy and sell Olympic tickets. VANOC took a 20 percent cut from all transactions. The $2 million fraud loss delayed payment to more than 200 people who listed their tickets on the VANOC site.

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