Nine people are to be sentenced after an investigation by Essex Police for ticket fraud involving 309 victims who were conned out of high profile sporting tickets.Â
In 2014 and 2015 there were over 550 complaints to Action Fraud from people who had purchased tickets to events but never received them or a refund.Â
In total the 309 victims lost in excess of Â£360,000 trying to buy tickets to the Rugby World Cup 2015, Formula One and the Mayweather versus Pacquiao fight.
The Action Fraud reports were assessed and analysed by experts within the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) who passed them onto Essex Police.Â Â
The NFIB also sent the City of London Policeâ€™s Disruptions Team the evidence they needed to take a fake website selling Rugby World Cup 2015 tickets offline, which they did successfully. The fraudsters changed hosts and got it up and running again, but the City of London Police which runs Action Fraud, disrupted it again preventing further victims.Â
Essex Police then started an investigation into three online companies called â€˜Touchline Ticketsâ€™, â€˜Getsportingâ€™ and â€˜Green Pitch Ticketsâ€™, which operated between early 2014 and April 2015.
The websites investigated were often appearing at the top of search engines, seemed authentic and gave discounts to people who opted for bank transfers, unaware this was helping to pay the fraudsters more quickly.
The most attractive event was the Rugby World Cup with more than Â£188,000 being paid for tickets that were never received.
Following Essex Policeâ€™s investigation two men were found guilty of money laundering following a two and a half week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court last month. A further seven people who were involved in the ticket fraud are due to be sentenced in the coming weeks.
Senior Investigating officer, DCI Lee Morton, of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorateâ€™s Serious Economic Crime Unit, said: â€œThis has been a complex investigation involving hundreds of victims and even more movements of money that was obtained fraudulently.
â€œThe victims were conned into handing over their hard earned cash to buy tickets to prestigious events that never existed. We have cases where individuals paid many thousands of pounds for just a handful of tickets, or others who had saved for these tickets to fullfill once in a life time dreams only to be let down at the last minute.
â€œThere were over 550 complaints made about the three companies that were investigated and we hope that the conclusion of this case will bring them resolution.
To protect yourself you should only buy tickets from the venueâ€™s box office, the promoter, an official agent or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site. Follow our advice to stay safe.Â
Read more on the Essex Police website.
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