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Landmark UK legal case sees ticketing fraudsters convicted
In a landmark case, two men who used specialist software to buy thousands of concert tickets and then resell them at significantly marked up prices have been convicted on fraud charges by a Court in the United Kingdom.
Peter Hunter, aged 51, and David Smith, aged 66, used a sophisticated computer program to make high speed purchases of concert tickets, acquiring £4 million (US$5.2 million) worth of tickets from primary seller websites between June 2015 and December 2017.
According to UK Crown Prosecutors, they then made a US$9.1 million profit be selling them at vastly inflated prices on secondary seller websites such as Viagogo.
As reported by London newspaper The Daily Telegraph, artists whose concerts they profited from included Gary Barlow, Coldplay and The Killers, as well as television shows including Eurovision, The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.
The first bulk ticket resellers to be successfully prosecuted in the UK, Hunter and Smith were this week found guilty of three counts of fraudulent trading and one count of possessing an article for use in fraud after a three-month trial at Leeds Crown Court.
The case followed an investigation by consumer group National Trading Standards into bulk reselling on the internet - an industry worth around US$9.1 billion - in 2017.
As reported by The Daily Telegraph, Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, previously told the jury that Hunter and Smith were "dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed".
They bought around 1,000 tickets every 72 hours and advertised them on secondary seller websites almost immediately.
To disguise their bulk buying, which is not permitted by many websites, they used 97 fake names linked to 88 addresses. These identities were linked to multiple email addresses, credit cards and mobile numbers.
Hunter, who used to be a chef, said he realised how lucrative it was when a waitress he worked with asked him to buy four Madonna concert tickets for her, as she didn't have a credit card.
He ended up buying 10 tickets and sold them on for double the price using eBay.
He and Smith advertised Ed Sheeran tickets online for almost three times their face value, buying up more than 1,000 for US$103,000 and reselling them for almost three times that amount.
Following the ruling, National Trading Standards Chair, Lord Toby Harris stated “millions of people spend their hard-earned money on tickets such as music concerts and sporting events each year.
"Buying a ticket in good faith and then discovering it is part of a dishonest fraud can be deeply distressing and can have a considerable financial impact on consumers.
“This is a landmark case for National Trading Standards and should reassure consumers that the fraudulent practices of secondary ticket sellers will no longer be tolerated.
"I hope this prosecution leads to a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future.”
FanFair Alliance, which campaigns against illegal ticket touting, said the case shone a light on the "murky world of secondary ticketing".
FanFair Alliance Campaign Manager, Adam Webb advised "we strongly suspect Peter Hunter and David Smith are not exceptional, and that other suppliers to these sites may also acquire tickets by unlawful means - no questions asked.
"Given the outcome of this case, it is now urgent that National Trading Standards are resourced to increase the scope of their investigations, and for the Competition & Markets Authority to apply further scrutiny towards the secondary ticketing market overall."
The pair will be sentenced on 24th February.
20th December 2019 - Melbourne Comedy Festival ticket resales prompts ‘don’t trust Viagogo’ advice
30th October 2019 - South Australian Government ticket resale crackdown sees four people fined
17th September 2019 - Unauthorised ticket resales hit Greater Shepparton’s Riverlinks venue
24th August 2019 - ACCC confirms investigation of Boomers vs Team USA ticketing issues
20th August 2019 - Consumer Affairs Victoria issues advice on avoiding ticket scams
20th July 2019 - Perth ticket scammer avoids jail over fraudulent sales
18th April 2019 - Federal Court finds Viagogo guilty of misleading consumers
6th November 2018 - Hong Kong Consumer Council calls for overhaul of ticket resale laws
26th October 2018 - South Australian Government introduces new ticket scalping legislation
9th October 2018 - Northland Facebook ticket fraudster convicted
5th June 2018 - FIFA makes criminal complaint against ticket reseller Viagogo
31st May 2018 - Viagogo faces UK investigation as Minister urges boycott
25th April 2018 - Viagogo faces UK court action for failing to protect consumers
1st September 2017 - Google urged to block online resellers who dupe ticket buyers
23rd February 2017 - Ticket reseller Viagogo hit by multiple Spanish legal actions
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