Latvian ticket scam may have cost Vancouver Olympics $2 million

A Latvian crime gang defrauded the 2010 Winter Olympics of up to CAD 2 million by using stolen credit cards to buy tickets for the event, officials in Vancouver have confirmed.

Canadian media reported May 19 that as many as 30 Latvian nationals may have been involved in the February scheme. However, only three were arrested and charged with fraud. A total of 218 individuals sold their tickets to the scammers.

The fraud was uncovered when Visa notified Olympics officials about unusual activity involving credit cards issued in Latvia that were being used to buy tickets on the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s (VANOC) fan-to-fan Internet site.

Twenty-year-old Artūrs Abroskins, 30-year-old Andris Stuks and 32-year-old Māris Avens were all charged with fraud over CAD 5,000.

Abroskins, according to Vancouver Provincial Court records, made his initial appearance Feb. 25 on two counts of fraud. He was found guilty March 19 and sentenced to three months in jail. However, he served only 23 days before being ordered to be deported.

Stuks, charged with four counts of fraud, made his initial appearance Feb. 27 and was found guilty March 26. He was sentenced to one day in jail and one month of probation. Stuks also was ordered deported.

Charges against Avens were stayed, according to media reports.

The three are suspected by Vancouver police to have been part of a larger group of Latvians flown in from the United Kingdom to work the scam, according to media reports.

The individuals who sold their tickets to the Latvians will be reimbursed, but that will be at VANOC’s expense. Officials are still trying to determine whether VANOC will be able to recoup the loss.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “Latvian ticket scam may have cost Vancouver Olympics $2 million

  1. What a shame. As a Latvian I was embarassed to read this news. I recognize that these were individual criminals, but their behavior tarnishes what was otherwise a rare bright spot in the news this year about Latvia and besmirches the postitive impressions made by our athletes & enthusiastic fans. Are we now going to add “crime gangs” to money laundering and economic malaise as the things Latvia is most well known for? My question is: who was behind this scam?

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