Winter Olympics Hype Fuels Scams

  
     
March 29, 2010

St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 8, 2010 – News and publicity about the upcoming Olympic Games have given rise to a raft of scams and potential rip-offs such as counterfeit tickets, bogus Olympics merchandise, rental property schemes and travel package fraud, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.

“The Olympics capture the hopes of athletes and inspire patriotism among people worldwide,” said Michelle L. Corey, president and CEO of the St. Louis BBB. “Unfortunately, scam artists are poised to take advantage of those interested in obtaining a piece of Olympic history or seeking to attend an Olympic event.”

The Winter Olympic Games begin Feb. 12 in the vicinity of Vancouver, British Columbia. The BBB expects fraud related to the games to increase before, during and after the Olympic events.

Among the common scams consumers should watch out for are:

  • Counterfeit tickets. The BBB advises consumers to be cautious about the source of any tickets they purchase. Authorized tickets sold between fans can be obtained by residents of the United States and Canada through the official Olympics website, www.vancouver2010.com. The site also will hold regular public auctions of tickets prior to the event.
  • Bogus Olympic merchandise. Consumers should be aware that knock-off merchandise such as collectibles and sportswear may be sold near sports venues and online. Consumers should familiarize themselves with Olympic logos, graphics and branding and consider shopping directly with www.vancouver2010.com. Collectible items may have negligible value because they are produced in large quantities.
  • Rental property scams. Ads for rentals in British Columbia have been popping up on Craigslist and other online classified sites. Scams often require victims to wire a large deposit to a supposed landlord to get keys to the rental. Once the money is wired, communications stop, victims lose their money and could end up without a place to stay during the games. The official website for Olympic accommodations includes a list of hotels, bed and breakfasts, private home rentals and rooms available on cruise ships. Well-recognized commercial travel sites also are a good place to look for accommodations.
  • Travel package problems. Because of the millions of visitors expected in Vancouver and the Whistler resort area, accommodations and travel options may be limited. Consumers should check out tourism businesses at www.bbb.org. Travel agencies should be licensed with Consumer Protection BC, and property management firms should be licensed with the Real Estate Council of British Columbia. Be sure to confirm all reservations for hotels, rental cars or other arrangements in advance and bring confirmation numbers with you.

For more information or to get a BBB Reliability Report, check with the BBB at www.bbb.org, or by calling 314-645-3300.

Contacts: Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-3300, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org or Chris Thetford, Director of Communications, 314-645-3300, communications@stlouisbbb.org