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Forensic accountants untangle web of alleged fraud over Olympic tickets

Member: Nifa

Forensic accountants were needed to untangle a web of deceit created by a gang of alleged fraudsters according to claims by Prosecutors at the trial of five defendants accused of conning thousands of customers out of tickets for the Beijing Olympic Games.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court heard how the five were said to have charged thousands of customers up to forty eight times the face value tickets which never arrived.

The parents of swimming star Rebecca Adlington were among the victims of the alleged scam in 2008.

Prosecutors claim a number of companies were set up, including Xclusive Leisure and Hospitality Limited and Peter’s Tickets Limited, to earn the defendants millions of pounds.

Terence Shepherd, 52, Alan Scott, 56, Cyril Gold, 68, Geert Van Meel, 53, and Margaret Canty-Shepherd, 51, are all accused of playing a part in the scheme.

Martin Evans, prosecuting, presented a written statement from the director of a wealth management company who paid around three thousand pounds for twenty four tickets.

Mr Evans said Clive Wiesbauer’s purchases included just under three hundred pounds for a session of rowing for which official ticket agencies had charged six pounds and ninety three pounds for a hockey ticket with a face value of three pounds sixty pence.

The court was shown a number of emails exchanged between Mr Wiesbauer and the company,, after no tickets were received.

When he asked, "why don’t your UK telephone numbers work?", he was told, "really sorry, we are experiencing a really high volume of calls".

He was assured the tickets would be sent before his departure date, but when they failed to materialise he rearranged for them to be delivered to his Beijing hotel.

"No tickets were ever delivered," he said. "When I realised no tickets were coming I purchased tickets from touts in Beijing."

He said he received no response to his requests for a refund, but was reimbursed by his credit card company.

Sales assistant Nicholas Lodge told the court he lost over five hundred pounds when tickets for the 2008 Reading Festival were not delivered.

After being unable to pay for them on the website using either his own or his father’s credit card, a customer service adviser told him to send two cheques.

"In hindsight it was very odd that both cards got rejected even though there was enough money in our accounts," Mr Lodge told the court.

Despite receiving a confirmation email that the payment had arrived by post, the tickets were never received.

"I tried to contact for a refund, however I didn’t have any luck," he said.

Mr Lodge added: "I called my bank for a refund but was told my cheques were not insured."

The trial also heard evidence from Serious Fraud Office investigator Matthew Ball.

He told the jury that Peter’s Tickets Limited sold just over one thousand four hundred tickets for the opening ceremony in Beijing.

Jeffrey Hunter, a former director at Sports World, an official ticket agent for the Games, had earlier told the court that they had been given a fraction of that amount to sell.

"It wouldn’t have been more than one hundred and fifty," he said.

Shepherd denies one charge of fraudulent trading, two counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of acting as a company director while disqualified and money laundering.

Scott denies fraudulent trading and fraud by false representation, and Gold denies aiding and abetting fraudulent trading.

Van Meel denies fraud by false representation, and Canty Shepherd, the wife of Shepherd, denies money laundering.

Allan Schaverien, 67, has already pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting fraudulent trading.

The trial continues.

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