Region briefs 11/14/03

Friday, November 14, 2003

Three accused of Internet fraud through ticket scamST. LOUIS -- Three St. Louis-area men were indicted Thursday on federal charges that they duped bidders on Internet auction sites.

The indictment alleges that between Oct. 2, 2002, and Feb. 13 of this year, the men monitored Internet-based auctions such as eBay for tickets related to sporting events and concerts, identifying losing bidders.

By e-mail, at least one of the defendants allegedly then told those bidders they had additional tickets for sale, typically payable via Western Union money transfer.

In other cases, at least one defendant fraudulently sought bids for event tickets using eBay auctions, telling winning bidders the tickets would be delivered only after they wired cash, the indictment alleges. When money was received, the indictment alleges, no tickets were delivered.

St. Louis, KC receive federal money for security

The St. Louis and Kansas City areas will share $24 million in federal money awarded to Missouri to improve efforts at preparing for and responding to terrorism, the federal Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

The money is part of the $725 million Urban Area Security Initiative program in the fiscal 2004 budget.

The areas receiving money are chosen based on factors including infrastructure, population density and threat intelligence data. The Kansas City area will receive about $13.3 million while the St. Louis area will get about $10.8 million.

SEC sues businesses for defrauding investors

BRANSON, Mo. -- Two Branson-based businesses and two others have been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly defrauding at least 600 investors across the country.

SEC officials submitted a complaint this week seeking an emergency injunction to halt what they consider illegal activity for an alleged Ponzi scheme.

SEC officials claimed four businesses, including Branson City Limits and Ozark Ticket and Travel, and eight people raised at least $28 million from investors since September 2000.

The defendants offered and sold securities nominally structured as hotel timeshare rental interests, the commission said.

-- From wire reports

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