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Scamsters use SEO to Commit Olympic Ticketing Fraud

What happens when you take bad people with a must buy item (that they don’t actually have), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) knowledge and a thirst for money at all costs? Well if you’re the con artists behind an olympic ticketing site you stand to make millions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers prior to being found out.

When I first became aware of the scam on August 2, I noticed the website, www.bejingticketing.com was ranked 4th for the term “olympics tickets” on Google.

After all of the free PR and the buzz created from the scam becoming public and more importantly the hundred of new links from media sites published around the world, the website jumped to the #2 spot a few days later. Thankfully the site has been taken down, but not before the damage was already done.

From the first moment I saw the website it was clear very that SEO had been utilised to gain traction in search engines such as Google. The combination of highly targeted content and a professional design was a clear giveaway why it ranked so well and milked hundreds of people around the world out of their hard earned dollars.

By using and repeating keywords focused around tickets for the various sports and Olympic ceremonies throughout the content, Meta Title and navigation, it’s easy to see that SEO formed the base of their marketing strategy from the beginning. These guys knew what they were doing and utilised SEO and links from other websites to drive traffic to their website.

So who’s to blame? The scammers, the consumers for their lack of homework, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Beijing Olympics Committee (BOC) for not policing their own brands or Google for sending their customers to the site?

Of course the real culprits are the criminals who took people’s money without providing the product. But I also believe, The IOC and BOC have to take some responsibility for not policing their own brands and trademarks. In an age where tools exist to keep track of where a brand is being used online the IOC and BOC could have identified the website sooner and dealt with it accordingly.

While it’s easy to calculate the consumer loss, the damage done to the IOC’s and BOC’s brand is another story and ultimately very difficult to determine. Of course the IOC has overcome worse situations such as drug cheats, vote buying and corrupt officials so weathering this latest fiasco should be a breeze.

However, if the same situation was applied to a well know business brand, the consequences could be devastating for the business if not dealt with appropriately. Today, tools such as Adgooroo’s Trademark Insight and services such as Online Reputation Management can be used to keep a close eye on a brand or trademark and companies can learn firsthand what consumers or scammers are saying immediately rather than waiting until it gets out of control.

Blaming the consumer for not purchasing tickets from an official ticketing source is no longer the answer.


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