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Three guilty of Blackfriars Road ticket fraud

Three people associated with the Xclusive group of companies - formerly based in Blackfriars Road - have been convicted of offences relating to the fraudulent sale of more than £5 million worth of tickets for sport and music events.

Three guilty of Blackfriars Road ticket fraud
The Xclusive group of companies was based in this building on Blackfriars Road
Three guilty of Blackfriars Road ticket fraud
Terence Shepherd later transferred his activities to the Online Ticket Exchange based in Borough High Street

Verdicts have been returned this week at Southwark Crown Court following a seven week trial.

Terence Shepherd and Alan Scott were found guilty of a variety of offences for failing to supply tickets to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and summer music events such as the V, Leeds and Reading festivals.

Allan Schaverien pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting fraudulent trading before the start of the trial.

The trio will be sentenced on 11 July.

They operated through the Xclusive group of companies, receiving over 5 million in payment for the various events but supplied no tickets or refunds.

Xclusive was based in an office building at the corner of Blackfriars Road and Scoresby Street.

Around 2,500 people – from various countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong and the USA – are believed not have received over 5,000 tickets for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Similarly during that year approximately 2,600 people in the UK did not get their tickets for summer music events, paying approximately 1 million for over 5,000 tickets.

Xclusive operated a number of ticketing websites. According to their terms and conditions, the company claimed to specialise in supplying "hard to get tickets to sold out events". But in many cases, Xclusive didn't even bother trying to source the tickets, choosing to simply withdraw the money from the company bank accounts and use it for their own means.

The SFO says that the defendants paid Google more than 400,000 to ensure that when members of the public searched for tickets online, Xclusive's advertisements would be at the top of the listings.

During 2008 the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform received complaints from members of the public about the activities of Xclusive.

In September 2008 the Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation with the Metropolitan Police focussing on the activities of Xclusive Tickets Limited, Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality Limited and four related companies.

As part of the investigation investigators made a public call for victims to come forward and complete a questionnaire on the SFO website. More than 600 questionnaire responses formed part of SFO's evidence.

The families of British Olympic contestants were among the people who had paid for tickets but did not receive them. Giving evidence in the SFO's prosecution, Kay Adlington spoke of her devastation when she realised she would not be able to see her daughter, Rebecca Adlington, compete in the 800 metres swimming heats and finals.

"Xclusive was a sham that not only cost a lot of people their hard-earned money, but dashed their dreams," says Serious Fraud Office director Richard Alderman.

"I am very pleased that justice has been done. Now we shall do our best to get the money back for the victims."

Margaret Canty-Shepherd was acquitted of money laundering and Cyril Gold of Middlesex was acquitted of aiding and abetting fraudulent trading by the jury.

Gert van Meel, Terry Shepherd and Alan Scott were also charged with fraud by false representation, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 in relation to the unauthorised sale of football tickets. His Honour Judge Beddoe directed acquittals on this count on 2 June.

As early as March 2008 Xclusive began selling its assets to another company controlled by Terry Shepherd; The Online Ticket Exchange based in Borough High Street. In 2009 customers of TOTE shared their experiences of the company on the SE1 forum. TOTE was wound up by the Official Receiver in January 2010 due to persistent failure to supply tickets and refunds to customers.

Sergeant Torsten Mansson, who worked with the SFO case team said: "With the summer music festival season upon us and Olympics fast approaching it is important to highlight the need to use only official ticket sites."

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