A gang of online fraudsters have been using a Wandsworth Council-owned building as a bogus mailing address to dupe hundreds of JLS and Coldplay fans into buying non-existent concert tickets.
The gang set up a string of websites promising tickets for acts such as JLS, Coldplay, Barry Manilow, Westlife, Il Divo and comedian Michael McIntyre at some of London’s best venues including the O2 Arena.
They were rumbled after a woman from Aberdeen contacted bosses at the O2 because her JLS tickets had not arrived.
Staff at the venue then traced the gang’s "registered" address to a council day centre and tipped off Wandsworth Council's trading standards team.
The team contacted Google to de-list the websites from the company’s search engines and asked banks to stop them being able to process cash payments.
Chief trading standards officer Christopher Roe said: "As soon as we got wind of what was happening we were able to step in and put a stop to this unpleasant scam.
"Unfortunately a lot of people have paid money for tickets that are never going to arrive, but at least we have managed to stop the criminals pocketing all the cash and ensured that £40,000 is available to help pay back the victims."
Almost £40,000 was frozen in the bogus company's account before it could be pocketed by gang members - this will now be reimbursed to customers who have lost out.
The fraudsters have now been put out of business, but not before they swindled around 1,900 people from all across the country.
It is understood the gang hail from the Indian subcontinent but have yet to be traced.
Jonathan Brown, secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) said: "Ticket crime cynically preys on the enthusiasm of fans to see their favourite entertainers, but can be avoided by taking care when buying tickets.
"We would always recommend that customers secure their tickets from STAR members who are authorised by promoters and venues to sell tickets on their behalf."
The websites that trading standards shut down were: barry-manilow-2012-support.com, coldplay-tour-2012.com, il-divo-live.com, jls-tickets.com, live.net, michael-mcintyre.com and westlife-concert-tickets-support.com.
For more information visit www.star.org.uk/consumeradvice/buyingonline.