01 June 2011
American Wiseguys; Australian Wiseguys Uprising?, by Greg Tingle
Wiseguy hey? What is a wiseguy? The United States has them... heard of 'The Mob'? So does Italy. The casino and larger gambling industry is understood to be home to a few "wiseguys", some recently busted lurking in the entertainment - ticketing sector, and now speculation rises as to who may be a wiseguy down under in Australia. Media Man loads up the Cadillac, shovels, knock squad and navigates the odd horses' head with this special 'Wiseguys" report...
American Wiseguys online ticketing scheme...
Legal eagles for a foursome of Americans accused of illegally purchasing more than 1 million concert tickets online, then going on to sell them for a massive $30 million profit, are seeking to have the case thrown out of court.
The four Californian natives are charged with the serious offences of conspiracy and fraud.
They are accused of bypassing safeguards meant to restrict the number of tickets each customer can buy.
The US government alleges their company... wait for it...Wiseguy Tickets, resold the tickets for $30 million in estimated profit.
According to a 43-count indictment unsealed in March of this year, the foursome used a nationwide network of computers to flood websites such as Ticketmaster and Major League Baseball and even developed a computer program that could automatically get past web pages that require purchasers to manually type in sample words before they can proceed. Cleaver cookies hey.
The quad squad focused on highly coveted premium tickets to high-profile events such as concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews and Hannah Montana and sporting events such as the baseball playoffs, the 2009 Sugar Bowl and the 2007 BCS college football championship game, federal authorities have gone on record with.
The case is being prosecuted in New Jersey as many of the live events were held at Giants Stadium, Izod Centre and Prudential Centre; others were spread across the United States at venues in New York City, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tampa, Florida, according to the indictment.
Kenneth Lowson, Kristofer Kirsch and Faisal Nahdi, all of LA, and Joel Stevenson, of Alameda, California, face charges that include conspiracy, wire fraud and unauthorised computer access.
The wire fraud counts are the most serious and carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years per count upon conviction.
Lowson, Kirsch and Stevenson have been freed on bail since their arrests, while Nahdi is a fugitive and is believed to be abroad... on the run, as they say.
Mark Rush, a lawyer for Lowson, argued in federal court on Monday that the foursome might have violated websites' terms of service - use, but are not liable under existing federal law.
Federal prosecutors sought to play down the unusual nature of the men's alleged crimes.
"We see cases like this in federal court all the time," Assistant US Attorney Erez Lieberman said during a motion hearing before US District Judge Katherine Hayden.
Lieberman said the defendants "lied, lied and lied some more" when they purchased tickets using hundreds of fake internet domain names and created a method of bypassing safeguards meant to limit the number of tickets available to individual buyers.
"Each and every step of the way it was a traditional fraud," Lieberman said.
Rush argued that while the defendants' actions might be deemed unsavoury to say the least, they did not rise to the level of criminal activity but should more appropriately be taken up as a civil matter.
"This isn't Ticketmaster versus Wiseguy, but perhaps it should be. But it shouldn't be the United States of America versus Wiseguy. Congress has not criminalised ticket brokers or ticket scalpers. What if they hired 100,000 people to all get on the site at the same time? Would we be here?" Rush asked.
"Or was it because it was a computer? If we are struggling to figure out if this is a violation of federal criminal law, then the indictment should be dismissed."
Australian Wiseguys Background And Uprising?...
Australian history books show a bit of ticketing "funny business" going back to Harry M. Miller circa 1982, with Computicket but that's ancient history now. If you want to find out more about Harry and Computerticket, you can buy his book 'Confessions of a Not-So-Secret-Agent'.
Speculation is rife about who is, or will be, the new breed of Australian born and breed "Wiseguys".
Casino, gambling and sports betting types have likely heard of the "Australian Gumleaf Mafia", but are they also the "Aussie Wiseguys"?
It's often been joked that "The Mafia" runs American media, Hollywood and Australia's entertainment, gambling, but how much is talked up and what's fact or fiction can be very difficult to ascertain.
Talk around 'Sin City' Sydney of late speculates that Kings Cross nightclub owner - operator John Ibrahim may be described as a "wiseguy". What is interesting is that in July 2009, Ibrahim's bodyguard, Semi "Tongan Sam" Ngata, was arrested following a raid on his home by a special gang violence taskforce that netted bulk quantities of a methamphetamine precursor. Ibrahim is portrayed by Firass Dirani in the 2010 television miniseries Underbelly: The Golden Mile. Media Man talent, part time bodyguard, and new 'Aussie Gumleaf Mafia' recruit, John 'Vulcan' Seru, also featured with Dirani on a number of 'Underbelly' episodes last season. A few months back Durani scored a role opposite Robert Di Niro in 'The Killer Elite'. Readers will recall that it was De Niro who played Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal) in the Martin Scorsese film 'Casino'. Ah, small world isn't it.
So, who are Australia's real life 'Wiseguys'? Are they more likely to be Harry M. Miller types? 'Gumleaf Media' types, sports betting fixes seen around the Australian - Indian - Pakistan cricket matches, or more of the types that are invisible to all but those in the underworld? We would suggest the later wiseguys!
Media Man International
Media Man News