A man from Catford has been sentenced to four years in prison for selling fake Olympic tickets, ripping off hundreds of people from across the world.
Christakis Ioannou, 44, of Crantock Road, pleaded guilty on September 6 2012 at Kingston Crown Court, to participating in a fraudulent business and possessing and concealing criminal property.
Ioannou set up two websites almost a year in advance of the Games opening. The sites, www.2012-londonsummergames.com and www.2012-londonsummergames.org were designed to look official and offered for sale unlimited numbers of tickets for all Olympic events.
Over 400 people purchased non-existent tickets from the sites, which took over 450,000 euros in five weeks alone. Parents of competing athletes from Greece and France were amongst the victims, who after purchasing tickets at over inflated prices never heard anything from the website or company again.
Ioannou was arrested as he stepped off a flight from Portugal at Gatwick airport. He was then carrying 17,500 euros in his shoes, cash from his fraudulent ticket sales.
He travelled frequently between Portugal and the UK and had opened bank accounts in Portugal to channel funds from both websites. All the money paid in had been withdrawn in cash.
The arrest came after investigation by Met’s specialist Operation Podium Team, which was set up to tackle serious and organised crime affecting the economy of the London Olympic and Paralympics Games 2012.
Evidence has been taken from victims in over 20 countries around the world including the USA; Italy; Netherlands and Denmark. In total the website took 510.494.59 euros.
Detective Superintendent Nick Downing, in charge of Operation Podium, said: ”Ioannou was the first fraudster of this type we identified and the biggest.
“This case clearly shows that online crime of this nature is not a victimless crime. Over 400 people missed out on a chance to be part of the London 2012 Olympic Games and instead were simply ripped off.
“Podium were so concerned about people falling foul of his scam we issued a number of public warnings naming the sites to try prevent additional people from getting conned.
“These sites were picked up as part of our proactive monitoring of the internet and referrals from LOCOG to spot and then prevent fraudsters like Ioannou from cashing in on the popularity of the Games. 340 websites were identified in this way.
“Never buy your tickets from anywhere but the official event organisers, or those people authorised to sell on their behalf. “