Peter Williams: My family was unwittingly caught up in Olympic ticket scam

The developing scandal around the Irish Olympic Committee and its long-time boss Pat Hickey over ticket scalping has me wondering.

Has my family been unwittingly caught up in some dodgy business with resold tickets?

Here's our story.

Back in February when I was appointed by ONE News to work here in Rio during the games, my wife decided she'd come over for the final weekend and then we'd go sightseeing for a few days afterwards.

As she's a basketball fan, she decided to get a ticket for the men's final knowing that it would probably involve the NBA superstar-laden Team USA.

So she went online, to what she thought was the official site of the games to buy the ticket.

A ticket was bought and paid for and she received a confirmation. The amount - a four figure sum - was duly charged to her credit card.

As she's a very independent person, I didn't pay too much attention to the purchase.

I should have.

For a start, the purchase was made with a MasterCard.

You can't buy anything to do with Olympics unless you pay with Visa.

The confirmation email said the ticket would arrive at her New Zealand address two weeks before the games started.

Suffice to say, it didn't.

We had been scammed.

My fears were confirmed when I read an article in The Guardian about the website she'd purchased from -

The article said the site's operators had used technology to get above the official site on Google searches and had scammed hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting punters around the world.

My wife came to Rio without a ticket and knowing she'd been scammed.

Before she left, and after I'd rung the (disconnected) phone numbers they'd provided on their website, she fired off an email to the address provided, suggesting they were scum and that they should spend time behind bars etc etc.

At least, she thought, if I'm going to be scammed I can give someone a gob full - if anyone will ever read it.

Well somebody must have read it.

When she arrived in Rio, a mysterious person contacted her saying he had the ticket and it was available to be picked up.

This smelt even more suspicious.

The arrangement was to meet a man at Starbucks in Ipanema at midday.

She didn't go of course. Instead I went with our security man Jamie and our picture editor Leo, who is Brazilian.

Frankly, we had no hopes of actually getting a ticket. In fact, we thought we may have been walking into some kind of criminal activity but thought there may have been a news story in it if there was some trouble.

The contact had sent a photo of himself. We recognised him straight away in the Starbucks.

Unbelievably, he had a ticket for the men's basketball final.

I opened the envelope. The ticket looked real.

The guy said his name was Darius. He lived in the USA but said he was German originally.

He seemed a pleasant enough chap. We asked him where the ticket had come from.

He then proceeded to tell us that the two most corrupt organisations in the world are the IOC and FIFA.

Various National Olympic Committees get a ticket allocation from the IOC at each Olympics. They are to be used to distribute or sell to sponsors, supporters and athletes' families.

But many of the National Olympic Committee tickets are not used, so the NOC officials move them on the the "resellers" - otherwise known as scalpers.

Where the profits from that " resale" actually go, nobody knows. But it's highly unlikely the NOC itself, or individual sports federations, will benefit.

Most likely it's an official or officials from the NOC who take the profits.

That's why the Irish Olympic boss is languishing in a Rio prison - awaiting further developments.

As for my wife's ticket - well who knows where it came from, and who was supposed to use it.

All I know is that, through carelessness and naivety, we paid a four figure sum for a ticket with a face value of about $NZ175.

But thankfully, it worked.

She had it scanned twice at the checkpoints on the way into the basketball final, and passed through successfully.

So she watched Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and their team mates whip Serbia.

She said it a great experience, but noted there were many empty seats.

We were a bit dumb being scammed by a non-official website, but we'll know better next time. Always use Visa at the Olympics.

But where did the profit between $175 and the four figure sum go?

Who would know, but the arrest of Pat Hickey raises many, many questions.

It is both the Rio Games and the hunger games for our presenter at the Olympics.
Source: 1 NEWS

Greenpeace links forest destruction for palm oil to global brands

Greenpeace says global consumer brands continue to buy palm oil from companies that are cutting down Indonesia's rainforests despite repeated pledges to clean up their supply chains.

The environmental group says in a report released Wednesday that 25 palm oil producing groups it has investigated destroyed more than 130,000 hectares of natural forest in Indonesia since 2015.

It says all but one of those producers had supplied palm oil to consumer companies that are household names around the world in the past year.

Palm oil, mainly produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, is used in a slew of consumer products from snacks to cosmetics.

Rapid forest loss and greenhouse gas emissions have made Indonesia the fourth biggest contributor to global warming after China, the U.S. and India.

Forest in Indonesia (file picture).
Forest in Indonesia (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS


No vacancy: Curious mountain lion wanders around Colorado motel

A mountain lion has been caught on a surveillance camera dashing to the doorstep of a Colorado motel office, venturing toward the open doorway and then wandering away.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay says nobody was hurt in the Sept. 9 encounter.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported Tuesday the lion approached the Foot of the Mountain Motel on Boulder's west side. Just after entering the camera's view, the lion pauses, as if startled.

Clay says that was when the lion spotted motel guests with with a dog on a leash.

Clay says the guests and their dog returned to their room and there was no trouble.

The lion thought better of kipping down for the night at the Foot of the Mountain Motel. Source: Associated Press

In August, a mountain lion entered a Boulder home and killed a house cat, and another was tranquilized and relocated from under a porch.



McDonald's workers across US protest sexual harassment

McDonald's workers are staging protests in several cities in what organisers called the first multistate strike seeking to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

In Chicago, several dozen protesters rallied today in front of McDonald's headquarters while a plane flew overhead with a banner reading, "McDonald's: Stop Sexual Harassment."

In New Orleans, current and former employees chanted, "Hey, McDonalds, you can't hide — we can see your nasty side."

Those are among 10 targeted cities. Other protests were held in St. Louis; Kansas City, Missouri; and Durham, North Carolina.

Protesters are demanding that McDonalds require anti-harassment training for managers and employees. The fast food chain defends its policies.

Another demand is forming a national committee to address sexual harassment, made up of workers, management and leaders of national women's groups.

Current and former McDonald's employees wear tape with "#MeToo" over their mouths as they up to one of their restaurants for a protest in New Orleans. Source: Associated Press

Day care owner accused of tying kids to car seats for up to seven hours, fastening shoe laces around their necks

The owner of an in-home day care accused of keeping infants and toddlers tied to their car seats for hours has been jailed in the United States on child endangerment charges.

An affidavit says Rebecca Anderson also yanked a six-month-old child by the bib around his neck, tied laces around the children's necks to limit their movement and gave them the painkiller acetaminophen to quiet them.

The 60-year-old is accused of having kept the small children tied up in car seats for at least seven hours a day at Becky's Home Child Care, her day care near Dallas, Texas.

When police executed a search warrant on her home, they found three children in a dark bedroom closet strapped to car seats, according to CBS 11 News in Dallas. Some of the children had to have shoelaces cut off their necks, police also said.

"It just kind of concerned me the way the kids sounded when the parents dropped them off," neighbour Susan Geldmeier told the news station, explaining that she would sometimes hear children wail when dropped off at the facility.

"It alarmed me to where I was like, 'Why are they sounding like that?'"

Anderson was booked Monday into the Dallas County jail on nine counts of child endangerment with bonds totalling NZ $68,000.

Rebecca Anderson Source: Dallas County Jail