Ticket scammer admits ripping off dozens of AFL fans

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An online scammer who pocketed more than $25,000 by selling fake grand final tickets has admitted deceiving the AFL fans.

James Bambino, 24, pleaded guilty at Heidelberg Magistrates Court on Thursday to one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime and 36 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

James Bambino bought one ticket to the AFL grand final breakfast in September, which he attended, before going on to advertise the fake tickets online.Credit: Vince Caligiuri

The charges relate to 37 victims who bought almost 70 fake grand final tickets from Bambino just days ahead of the match between the Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans.

Bambino himself bought one ticket to the AFL grand final breakfast on September 18, which he attended, before going on to advertise the fake tickets on Twitter, Instagram and Gumtree.

He sold the fake tickets between September 18 and 24, later coming up with a range of excuses as to why he couldn’t cough them up.

Bambino ultimately poured almost $22,000 of the money from the false ticket sales into gambling platforms as he contended with a gambling addiction.

His “harebrained” scheme was doomed for detection, his lawyer told the court on Thursday.

“(Bambino) did not attempt to conceal any of his details in any way, and in fact he paid money back to a number of the victims before there was any police involvement,” the lawyer said.

“He’s a young fella and he’s lost everything due to his stupidity: work, friends, self-esteem, reputation – a lot over this period of time.”

Bambino was remorseful for his behaviour and was going through a personal crisis when he sold the fake tickets, the court was told.

At the time, he was depressed, unsupported, struggling with his gambling addiction and had lost his “dream job” as a ramp operator at the airport. He has not gambled since October last year, his lawyer said.

The lawyer said Bambino and his family had been subjected to disgusting and potentially criminal abuse on social media following his offending, as well as media attention.

Magistrate Jennifer Tregent agreed the attacks were vile and warned perpetrators against making the online threats.

She is set to sentence Bambino on Thursday, pending his assessment for a community corrections order.

Bambino had no criminal history and had paid back his victims, the court was told. He had depression, anxiety and ADHD.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.


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