By Taylor Lindstrom
Terence Shepherd was one of the three defendants held responsible for the Beijing Olympics ticket scam, which sold $3 million in nonexistent tickets to the 2008 Olympic games. He was also arrested by the Serious Fraud Office for money laundering and illegally selling tickets as well as selling nonexistent tickets.
Terence Shepherd is in court this week. But at least one of his websites, Gigsport.com, is still selling nonexistent and illegal tickets.
The 2012 Olympics are just around the corner. London, we have a problem.
"We're sold out specialists. We are one of the most popular sold out ticket sellers on the web. We specialise in getting hard-to-find tickets for sold out sporting, theatre and music events at premium rates."
Those are the introductory sentences for the About Us page at theonlineticketshop.com. The plaudits for the company go on for several paragraphs, touting guarantees like "we promise a fair price," and "You come first."
This from a company which failed to deliver over £1 million in promised tickets and went into insolvency in 2006. It's unclear what their customers were coming in first for, but apparently it wasn't the line for the venue they'd purchased tickets to attend.
Four years later, the exact same About page appears on the blog of a company called Gigsport, which also sells tickets to "sporting, theatre and music events at premium rates." The wording is identical, down to the last comma and misspelled word. The promises are the same.
So is the scam.
Terence Shepherd and his group of cohorts were behind both companies - along with multiple other ticket-selling companies including The Online Ticket Exchange Limited (TOTE) and Ticketmate Limited, as well as the nefarious site that sold the $3 million in fraudulent Beijing Olympics tickets.
One of the unfortunate side effects of a digital age is that criminals are often more up-to-date than authorities on how to manipulate and interpret an online environment. The connection between theonlineticketshop.com and Gigsport.com is fairly easy to uncover - if you know what you're looking for, if you know anything about website domain names and transferring, if you're devoted to tracing the trail back to its origins.
It seems many authorities are having some difficulty making those connections, but the trail is irrefutably there, and every road seems to lead back to Shepherd.
theonlineticketshop.com domain was transferred, just before its original owner's insolvency, to a company called Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality. When Xclusive Leisure also faced insolvency, the site was transferred to The Online Ticket Exchange, and from there to Gigsport.
The domains theonlineticketexchange.com and gigsport.com followed an identical pattern of transfer. They were moved to new ownership just before their old owner, Xclusive Leisure, filed insolvency.
Transferring domains just before insolvency is highly suspicious, but hardly seems worthy of a great deal of attention. Except that domains weren't the only things being transferred. Every time, before one of these ticketing companies went under, the company's assets were moved to a new corporation.
Which then began the ticketing scam anew.
Several of Terence Shepherd's companies currently are wound up in the high court. He has been found responsible for the Beijing ticket scam. His companies Xclusive Tickets Limited and Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality are being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau is handling complaints of Gigsport.com's fraud. And the Insolvency Service is looking into the scam websites theOnlineTicketShop, TheOnlineTicketExchange, and Ticketmate.
We are forced to wonder, since Gigsport.com appears to not yet have been connected to Shepherd's previous ticketing scams, if these agencies have yet to share information with one another. Its website, modus operandi, and until quite recently, even the very words on the About page are identical to previous Shepherd scams. The website domain was transferred directly from one of Shepherd's other acknowledged scam companies, TheOnlineTicketExchange.
And yet Gigsport.com is still up and running.
We've prepared a white paper detailing the precise connections between Terry Shepherd, his cohorts, and their various ticketing websites, with citations to our sources. If the London agencies can find helpful information in it, we would be delighted to have a hand in seeing this matter resolved - and Shepherd stopped - once and for all.
Upcoming for the 2012 Olympic Games: A New Ticket Scam
Terence Shepherd has been running fraudulent ticket sales websites since at least 2003, and to date no one seems to have been able to shut down his operations fully. Even as Shepherd and his cohorts Gerardus Petrus Paulus van Meel and Alan Thomas Scott are found responsible of deceit and conspiring to injure by unlawful means, Gigsport.com continues to pull in new revenue. The trio has been made personally liable for Xclusive Leisure's debts; it doesn't seem far-fetched to think they will soon be looking for a new source of revenue.
Gigsport.com even benefited directly from one of Shepherd's previous schemes. Theonlineticketshop.com, despite all of the money and disappointment it has cost hundreds of people, ran merrily away for some time. It was no longer selling tickets, but it was sending Gigsport.com all of its traffic.
It's an old trick. Theonlineticketshop.com is the same website that once fueled the scam Beijing Olympics ticket website.
London authorities would do well to learn a lesson from Beijing's Olympic committee. Despite reports, complaints, and warnings from as far back as February of 2008, the committee never shut down fraudulent ticket sales from Shepherd's website. If London makes the same mistake and allows Gigsport.com to keep operating despite its ties to Shepherd and his gang of fraudulent ticket sellers, it would be incredibly naive to think the 2012 Olympic Games won't be the next target.
We at Moriarty Leyendecker are grateful to the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) for a number of reasons, among them its seeming sincerity about taking legal action toward any and all Olympic ticket resellers as well as its new policy of ensuring every Olympic athlete has the opportunity to invite at least one relative to witness their competition in the 2012 games, an issue we have been rigorously pursuing. We strongly suggest that if LOCOG hopes to make good on its pledge that the London Olympics will be completely free of ticketing scams, it should take steps to ensure that Shepherd and his ilk are obliged to shut down their ticketing websites once and for all.