UK Trading Standards arrests four in anti-tout raids
British consumer protection body National Trading Standards has made four arrests as part of its investigation into the business activities of large-scale secondary ticket sellers.
The existence of the investigation, which began in April 2017 and focuses on “businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk”, was revealed last month when news broke that competition watchdog CMA had raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo. It is believed to be codenamed ‘Operation Electra’.
The arrests are linked to alleged breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations act of 2008, the UK version of the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which seeks to protect consumers from “unfair, misleading or aggressive selling practices”.
While National Trading Standards has not named the four individuals, or the companies they represent, Viagogo in particular has been criticised for masquerading as an ‘official site’ for concert tickets, which could potentially breach the 2008 legislation. It was also recently criticised by French authorities for allegedly misleading consumers on the number of tickets available by suggesting they are about to sell out.
“Yesterday (Tuesday 12 December), officers from National Trading Standards conducted raids at a number of properties across the UK,” a National Trading Standards spokesperson says in a statement. “These raids are part of an ongoing investigation looking into unfair practices in the secondary ticketing market and particularly the practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk.
“These raids are part of an ongoing investigation looking into unfair practices in the secondary ticketing market”
“A total of four properties were raided and four people were arrested under suspicion of breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. In addition to the arrests, a range of equipment, including computers, mobile phones and storage devices, have been seized as evidence.
“The raids, led by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, were supported by local police, specialist police officers and the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team.
“National Trading Standards has also been working closely with the Competition and Markets Authority, which announced on 28 November that it will take action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law.”
National Trading Standards declined to comment further.
“FanFair Alliance welcomes what sounds like a comprehensive raid by National Trading Standards,” reads a statement from the anti-touting campaign group. “With new legislation due for enforcement in 2018, and the Competition and Markets Authority promising action against secondary ticketing sites that break consumer protection laws, this should mark the beginning of a long-awaited clean-up of this market.”
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