Opera site hits sour note

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The ACCC has filed proceedings against the New York based operator of a website it alleges posed as the official site for the Sydney Opera House.

In papers filed with the Australian Federal Court, the ACCC alleges Richard Chen used his site www.sydneyopera.org to lure customers from the UK and Europe to use credit cards to purchase tickets for the Opera House. It alleges he subsequently overcharged them or delivered no tickets.

The ACCC said Chen's site is affiliated with other sites around the world, including www.witestar.com, www.worldsboxoffice.com and www.scholarscircle.com, all of which pose as booking sites for entertainment venues.

The ACCC alleges Chen operated the Opera House site from servers in the US.

"We have a process server serving papers on him in New York," ACCC spokesperson Lyn Enright told iTnews.

Enright said that should Chen choose to ignore any papers served on him, a judgement could be entered in his absence in Australia.

However, she declined to speculate on an outcome from any such judgement, saying the matter is now before the court. "Until such time as we have a judgement and we know what that judgement is, I really can't comment," she said.

To date, Chen has not responded to the ACCC proceedings.

An ACCC statement said the watchdog is seeking to have Chen's sites removed, saying it has obtained interim court orders to that effect. The orders also prohibit Chen from creating, operating or maintaining similar sites.

The official site for the Sydney Opera House is www.sydneyoperahouse.com.au.

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