Fraud investigators probe Real Human Bodies Exhibition scam claims as Portsmouth ticket holders struggle to get refunds
FRAUD investigators are looking at scam allegations as ticket holders scramble to claim back cash from a cancelled human body exhibition.
Huppertz Global took cash via Paypal for tickets to the Real Human Bodies Exhibition Portsmouth at the Royal Maritime Club last weekend.
But more than a week on, ticket holders said they have received no cash - and the firm’s exhibition for this weekend in Southampton has been cancelled.
The Human Tissue Authority, which issues licences to premises, stopped the events as the firm had not applied for licences for the premises it wanted to use.
Action Fraud is now looking into reports it has received about the company. The German-registered website also advertised now-cancelled events at Brighton and Bristol.
An Action Fraud spokesman said: ‘I can confirm that Action Fraud received this report in June 2019 and it is currently being assessed by our National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.’
Julie Pikey, 53, from Portsmouth, had planned to go with a friend who paid £34 for tickets. She said: ‘I feel pretty stupid really because nothing gets past me. I have reported it to the police.’
Chloe Rudd, 28, from Chichester spent £17 on a ticket and £8.90 on train fare only to turn up to find it had been cancelled.
She said: I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to see the exhibition but more than anything just frustrated that nobody in relation to the event thought it was of any importance to post the cancellation announcement online.
‘There are so many people in the same situation as me on Facebook and the fact that nobody has reached out or made any attempt to fix anything is just plain rude.’
The News understands the firm involved was banned from running a display in Lausanne, Switzerland after the Swiss branch of Action by Christians Against Torture feared the bodies were tortured or executed Chinese prisoners.
Back in October last year the organiser Hubert Huppertz told a news site he had correct paperwork for its Lausanne event.
Photographs taken in May last year sent to The News by organisers match those used in Swiss reports on the exhibition in Lausanne and Bern.
Curious ticket holders were left dismayed at the Portsmouth cancellation last week - with the Queen Street venue saying the organiser did not have the correct licence.
Suzanne Clifton, 44, from Fareham had bought her 19-year-old daughter Taylor a ticket as they planned to go together. She forked out £29 but has heard nothing from the organisers - and had a refund bid turned down by Paypal.
She said: ‘I ordered the tickets for my daughter’s birthday as thought it would be educational and she is interested in the human anatomy.
‘I was very upset at the time and infuriated that the organiser didn’t let anyone know but was still selling tickets to all the other shows as well Southampton and Brighton. That’s when it clicked the whole thing was a scam - I felt a bit stupid that I had fallen for it to be honest.’
Concerns have also been raised as the Facebook page advertising the June 28 event was created on June 11.
Some ticket holders have raised disputes via Paypal hoping to get their cash back.
In a statement the Royal Maritime Club, which is not connected to the organiser, said: ‘The club has registered concerns about the Real Bodies Exhibition Company with Trading Standards who have advised us that anyone having difficulty in obtaining a refund should contact (Action Fraud or Citizens Advice).’
A Human Tissue Authority spokesman said: ‘Where exhibitions such as the Real Human Bodies Exhibition that display human specimens to the public are subject to the licensing requirements of the HT Act, they must take place on premises licensed by the HTA.
‘To obtain an HTA licence, an establishment must apply to us for a licence and must adhere to our licensing standards. '
Body World in London, a museum exhibiting human bodies, said it had received many calls. The firm is not connected to the Huppertz Global.