Search engine Google generated an undisclosed amount of revenue from ads linked to alleged fraudulent ticket resellers that hawk London Olympic tickets, according to a report by the BBC.
The links to the sites, including one called LiveOlympicTickets.com, have been removed from the paid advertising section that appears atop Olympic ticket search inquiries on Google. But it took requests by the London Metropolitan Police, and the publication of the BBC report, before the company acted.
In a statement to the BBC, Google said its advertising system is monitored by computers and staff adhering to the company’s policies. LiveOlympicTickets is not an authorized Olympic ticket reseller, which means the company was allegedly acting illegally by reselling tickets, according to police.
“When we are informed of ads which break our policies, we investigate and remove them if appropriate,” Google said. “Our aim is to create a simple and efficient way for legitimate businesses to promote and sell their goods and services whilst protecting them and consumers from illicit activity.”
LiveOlympicTickets allegedly refused to give a British woman a refund of the £750 she spent for Olympic tickets when she became nervous about the company, according to the BBC. She received a credit from her bank for the money, but depending on the bank’s investigation, she might have to return it.
British police and Olympic officials launched a concerted effort to eliminate illegal ticket resales called Operation Podium, which helped facilitate over 90 arrests by the end of 2011.
TicketNews called the two telephone numbers listed for the U.S. office of LiveOlympicTickets on its Web site, but neither call was answered. The company also lists offices in Madrid, Spain; Dublin, Ireland; and Paris, France. The company does not list an office in the United Kingdom.
Ticketing for the London Olympics has been fraught with problems in recent months, culminating in the shutdown of all sales this past weekend. Football (soccer) and Paralympic ticket sales have resumed today, January 10, but as of 3:30 p.m. EST, the authorized ticket resale site was still down. Ticketmaster, the company powering the site, was investigating the problem.