Humanizing the Beijing ticket scam

Throughout this week we've followed the story of beijingticketing.com, the Web site that sold fraudulent tickets for the Olympic Games to people all over the world. From a general perspective, it's a story that makes the average reader shake his or her head and wonder how something like this could happen.

When real victims share their heartbreaking stories, the gravity of the situation hits -- pardon the cliche -- much closer to home.

Among the victims is a California man who may now be unable to watch his 16-year-old daughter compete in swimming events. The father of a U.S. softball team player also says he was scammed after he paid $3,500 for tickets to the opening ceremony.

The victims aren't limited to families of U.S. teams, either. The father of a high school swimmer who qualified for Singapore's team lost thousands and will be unable to watch his daughter swim in person.

Gerald Lim said that in June he spent more than $3,000 on 3 tickets for himself, his wife and his other daughter to attend preliminary rounds for three events – the 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle races -- where his daughter would compete.

To make matters worse for Lim, he consulted with a travel agent who assured him "beijingticketing.com" was a 100% legitimate operation. On Monday, he received an email stating the suppliers weren't able to honor their committment to supply his tickets. As stated earlier this week, "beijingticketing.com" appeared first on Google searches for Olympic tickets, even ahead of the official Olympic site, making the distinction between "questionable" and "legitimate" operation more difficult to discern.

To help ticket scam victims, a Web site has been set up by a Houston-based attorney, Jim Moriarty. Moriarty lost $12,000 on tickets, and will miss out on opening and closing ceremonies.

On Saturday his help-site, Beijingticketscam.com, went live. Moriarty is also asking for help from the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee to get victims tickets once they arrive in China.

All this after questions were raised in a British newspaper earlier this year about the validity of "beijingticketing.com". Moriarty says the IOC knew about the Web site in March, but failed to act on it.

Once it was too late, the IOC and USOC filed lawsuits in Arizona and California, though Moriarty says there is very little the legal system can do; the U.S. addresses the site used were fake.

Screengrab photo via MSNBC.com.