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WiZink Center reports 1.2k fake tickets in 2019

More than 1,200 fans were denied entry to Madrid’s 16,000-capacity WiZink Center last year, having purchased false or duplicated tickets from unofficial platforms.

According to a report by the venue, there has been an “alarming increase in ticket fraud” in recent months, as fraudsters “capitalise on high demand and sophisticated technology to deceive fans who want to buy tickets at any price.”

In all cases, tickets had been purchased from secondary ticketing sites or through resale between individuals, either online or via street touts.

As reported in the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, secondary ticketing has long been a controversial issue in Spain and has been raised at government level. However, according to promoters’ association APM, concrete action is yet to be taken.

In May last year, Anatic, the association for secondary ticketing in Spain, warned against the fraudulent behaviour of many resellers and called for regulation and professionalisation of the sector.

To avoid more fans falling foul of fraudsters, the arena – the biggest in Spain – has launched an awareness campaign, disseminating advice to fans through banners on its website and other digital platforms.

“This is a problem that affects us directly, given that we are the ones who end up denying entry”

“This is a problem that affects us directly,” says Almudena Requena, director of ticketing at the WiZink Center, “given that we are the ones who end up denying entry to people with these kinds of tickets. This places a responsibility on us that we are not accountable for.”

Eugeni Calsamiglia, general director of Ticketmaster Spain, says that although it has always been advisable to buy ticket through official channels, it is now “essential”.

“Current access control systems detect 100% of false or duplicated tickets,” explains Calsamiglia, “so the risk of not being able to enter a concert with a ticket bought on an unofficial channel is high.”

The arena reminds fans that, unlike tickets bought through unauthorised channels, tickets purchased from its online box office or through other official sellers also protect against cancellations and date changes.

Upcoming concerts at the WiZink Center include Halsey, Jonas Brothers, Maluma, Bon Iver and Dua Lipa.

Photo: Luis García/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)


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Spanish resale org condemns “unethical” practice

The National Ticketing Association (Asociación Nacional de Ticketing – Anatic), an association representing Spain’s secondary ticketing sector, has issued a warning against the conduct of secondary ticketing operators in the country.

Anatic, founded in February 2018 by representatives of three Spanish secondary platforms, seeks to regulate and professionalise the secondary market. The organisation aims to weed out the fraudulent resellers that it believes are to blame for the resale market’s negative reputation.

The association is condemning “unethical conduct: falsification, fraud and resale” specifically with regards to the sale of tickets for the Champions League final in Madrid, but notes that the same practice extends to concert tickets.

Police in Madrid today arrested three individuals, confiscating 21 fake tickets and €3,180 in cash. The police warned against buying tickets outside of official channels.

The football final takes place on Saturday 1 June at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium (67,829-cap.). The stadium, which played host to iron Maiden last summer, has a packed music schedule this year, with concerts from Ed Sheeran, Bon Jovi, Muse, Alejandro Sanz and Manuel Carrasco.

“[Regulation would] allow professional companies to operate in the sector in a trustworthy and rigorous manner”

“A number of resale sites are not verifying that they actually possess the tickets before putting them up for sale,” say Anatic representatives, stating that in many cases tickets are sold before appearing on the primary market.

The secondary ticketing organisation also stresses the need for a national register for resale operators, stating that this would “allow professional companies to operate in the sector in a trustworthy and rigorous manner.”

Once again, Anatic calls for the regulation of the secondary ticketing sector to eliminate the presence of “opportunistic actors that generate negative public opinion”. However, the association maintains its position that the secondary market is a “necessary” service.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, secondary ticketing remains a contentious issue in Spain. Representatives from the Ministry of Culture called for national legislation on ticket resale in October, following proposals on Congress the previous year. Concrete action has yet to be taken.


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Ticketmaster launches SafeTix for digital tickets

Ticketing giant Ticketmaster has launched SafeTix, adding anti-counterfeiting features to digital tickets and providing event owners with more data about event attendees.

The SafeTix feature issues buyers with a unique, identifiable digital ticket. The tickets are tied to each fan’s mobile phone through an encrypted barcode that automatically refreshes, preventing the use of screenshots to duplicate tickets.

The tickets also include near-field communication (NFC) technology to allow attendees to enter venues with a “tap and go” experience.

Fans can sell or transfer tickets to a friend’s mobile number or email address. A new digital ticket is tied to the recipient’s account and phone each time a ticket is transferred or sold, making the journey of each issued ticket visible to organisers.

This visibility provides event organisers with more data on each individual fan attending their event, rather than just that of the original ticket purchaser. Organisers can communicate directly with attendees, providing fans with venue- or event-specific information and personalised food, drink and merchandise offerings.

“SafeTix will allow fans to arrive at a show or game with confidence that their tickets are always 100% authentic”

“Given that a new ticket is issued every time there is a transfer or sale, event owners have the ability to develop a unique relationship with each fan, leading to in-venue personalisation and future communication while increasing their known fanbase,” says Justin Burleigh, chief product officer of Ticketmaster, North America.

“SafeTix will allow fans to arrive at a show or game with confidence that their tickets are always 100% authentic and will dramatically reduce the amount of ticket fraud event owners are dealing with on event day.”

SafeTix will be used across NFL stadiums for the 2019 season and for a variety of touring artists. It will be available at additional participating venues in the future.

Later this year, fans will also be able to add contactless tickets to Apple Wallet, allowing them to enter venues easily and securely using their iPhone or Apple Watch. Tickets are automatically selected when a customer holds their iPhone near the ticket reader, using proximity-based technology.

Apple and Ticketmaster unveiled the integration this month during the opening keynote at Transact, the world’s premiere FinTech conference.

Ticketmaster acquired blockchain-ticketing service Upgraded in October 2018.


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Ticket to nowhere: festival ticket scams on the rise

International consumer and wholesale bank Barclays has issued a warning to festivalgoers this summer who are at risk of losing £179 on average from ticketing scams.

New research carried out by the bank has shown that 26% of those aged between 25 and 34 have fallen victim to a ticketing scam, proving the most at risk age-group of those surveyed.

The bank also finds that scammers tend to target the same festivalgoer more than once, with 37% of victims saying they had fallen for at least three different ticketing scams in the last two years.

Barclays warns that fake ticketing websites and social media personas are the most common form of scam, with a bank transfer being the preferred method of payment for criminals.

The data reveals that fans are aware of the risk of buying tickets from unofficial sources, such as through a social media group, yet 40% of 25 to 34 year olds admitted they would be prepared to use social media to secure tickets, despite the risks.

Facebook has become a popular platform for ticket touts and scammers, who set up unofficial events pages or heavily advertise tickets on the official pages for artists or events.

“As we enter the festival season, it is easy to forget our online safety as people look to secure their must-have tickets”

In January, the social media giant committed to take action against ticket fraud, promising to launch a tool to report fake ads and donate £3 million to a project dedicated to tackling fraud.

“As we enter the festival season, it is easy to forget our online safety as people look to secure their must-have tickets,” comments Barclays head of digital safety, Ross Martin.

“Yet, we should all be aware of the risks when purchasing tickets and make sure we are carrying out proper safety checks, to ensure our festival experience is not ruined by fraudsters.”

The bank urges fans to ensure they buy tickets from legitimate sources, checking if websites are part of the UK’s Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and are listed as an approved ticket seller on the festival website.

Further instructions warn against buying tickets advertised at heavily discounted prices, using payment pages that do not display a padlock symbol in the web address and purchasing from sellers insisting on payment by bank transfer.

Data released by STAR last year indicated that ticket fraud in the UK has been rising steadily on the past few years.

More details on how to stay safe when buying festival tickets can be found here.


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Facebook ‘taking action’ on ticket fraud

A Facebook spokesperson has said the social network is “taking action to stop” ticket fraud, two months after agreeing a £3 million legal settlement over scam adverts on its platform.

The social media giant in January agreed to launch a dedicated tool to report scam ads; donate £3m to a new Citizens Advice project to help tackle online fraud; and cover the legal costs of Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert founder, who brought the suit after more than 1,000 scam ads using his name or image appeared on the site.

While the scam-reporting button is due to be rolled out in May, a Times Money investigation has revealed that “fraudsters are blitzing the fan pages of pop stars with messages claiming that they have tickets for gigs and asking those interested to send them direct messages. Once a user sends money for the tickets to an account online, the scammers disappear.”

IQ revealed last August that ticket resellers are increasingly touting for business on Facebook, setting up unofficial Events pages to lure fans away from primary outlets and to secondary sites. However, the ‘resellers’ named in the Times article appear to be purely fraudulent, offering tickets they don’t have and never will.

Facebook: the next secondary ticketing battleground?

One particularly notorious scammer, ‘Sammie-Lou Teasley’, has reportedly posted on fan pages across Facebook claiming to have multiple tickets for acts including Mumford & Sons, George Ezra and the Paper Kites.

One victim, 49-year-old Andy Lopata, paid Teasley £100 for a ticket for Slash at the Hammersmith Apollo in February, arranging for the ticket to be sent to his email address. It never arrived, he says: “She had a conversational style that was very natural,” he tells the Times. “It wasn’t a transactional way of talking and was designed to allow me to take my guard down.”

Facebook says the company has taken down Teasley’s account, and is committed to stamping out fraud elsewhere on the site. “We have removed the account brought to our attention by the Times,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “Fraudulent activity is not tolerated on Facebook, and we are taking action to stop it.”

The UK’s Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star) revealed last year that ticket fraud increased 38% between 2015 and 2017, warning that British customers are “continuing to fall prey to deliberate fraudsters”.


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Wacken Open Air 2019 sold out already

Just weeks after the closing acts of this year’s festival, tickets for Wacken Open Air 2019 have already sold out. A total of 75,000 tickets have been purchased for the 2019 event, which will celebrate 30 years of the world’s biggest heavy metal gathering.

In a statement on their website, the Wacken team thanked fans for their show of support. “We are completely overwhelmed by your loyalty and your support which seems to be unbroken for almost 30 years now,” it reads.

“We promise to achieve an Anniversary which you shall remember for a long time! You are and were always the heart of our festival and without you all of this would not be possible.”

However, amongst the excitement and gratitude, organisers have also issued a warning to fans who were unable to get tickets to next year’s event to stay away from secondary ticketing outlets.  Organisers have told fans to avoid buying tickets from eBay, Viagogo, Laolaevents, Global-tickets, Eventtickets24 and tickets75, adding that this list of what they deem to be untrustworthy retailers may be added to in the run up to 2019’s event.

“We are completely overwhelmed by your loyalty and your support which seems to be unbroken for almost 30 years now”

“We have no business relationship with these and other platforms and dealers,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Many of the pages have not only attracted attention by inflated prices, but also by the sale of stolen or deactivated tickets. In some cases, they are even selling tickets that they do not own at all.”

Their warning follows a recent similar caution from the Singapore Police Force, after a rise in the number of fraudulent tickets being sold through secondary marketplaces. In some cases, victims parted with up to S$400 only to receive blank sheets of paper in place of tickets.

Fans are being advised to join the Wacken Open Air 2019 official waiting list for tickets. It is expected that a number of spaces will come available over the course of the next ten days, due to ticket returns and advance payments not being made in time.


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How can festival operators ensure safe ticket sales?

We all know the planning that goes into organising a festival is huge – and how satisfying it is when you see everyone who’s bought tickets having an amazing time. So having to turn away someone because their ticket is a dud isn’t what you want – it wastes your time and their weekend is ruined.

It’s therefore important to make sure the tickets people are buying to your festival are safe and genuine. A recent survey by NatWest found over half of British adults online are concerned about being a victim of online fraud. With festival season well and truly upon us, helping to build awareness around safe ticket sales is important to make sure everyone has a great time and your event runs as smoothly as possible on the day.

Here is a quick rundown of how you can ensure a safe ticket sales process for your festival.

How do these ticket scams work?
ActionFraud reported over 21,000 people have fallen victim to a ticket scam in the past three years, resulting in £17 million being lost to ticket fraudsters. So how do they work?

Fraudsters will take advantage of festivalgoers by offering heavily discounted tickets, making the opportunity seem too good for them to pass up on. They might even sell a genuine ticket, but the ticket never gets delivered.

Using social media, they can reach a wide audience if they use the right tactics and promote their fake ticket sales website. Social media has additionally given independent scammers the opportunity to sell fake or completely non-existent tickets, and then delete the profile once the money has been sent. Using online banking has also enabled scammers to ask for money to be sent to their account straight away, with no need for face-to-face meet-ups to check if the ticket is genuine.

It’s important to let the public know you don’t support touts and want them to buy tickets safely

How do differentiate between a tout and a scammer?
While a tout might send a ticket that’s the real deal at a very inflated cost, a scammer doesn’t send the ticket at all, or sells a dud. Touts aren’t illegal like ticket scammers are, but resell festival tickets for well above face value in order to make a large profit. These can be sold on secondary ticketing sites, on their own websites or even the old-fashioned way: by lurking outside festival entrances.

What advice should you give on your website?
Including a section on your festival’s website encouraging festivalgoers to only buy tickets from trusted sources can go a long way.

As a lot of fraudsters advertise tickets for festivals which are already sold out, make sure you’re being clear – not only on your website, but on your social channels when you’ve sold out of tickets. Also offer helpful advice if your festival has sold out, such as guiding people to genuine websites which offer a ticket return and resale service for fans who can no longer go and people who want to.

Encourage everyone to buy tickets from your festival’s website, and make it clear why. People might think they can snap up a good deal from a secondary source, but let them know why this might not always work in their favour.

Including this on your website helps build a level of trust with the public, especially for smaller and up-and-coming festivals. It’s important to let them know you don’t support touts and want them to buy tickets safely, so everyone can have an incredible festival season.


Sophie Proctor is a content marketing executive at Performics.

Jason Nissen facing jail time after guilty plea

Jason Nissen, the New York-based former ticket reseller accused of operating a a multimillion-dollar ponzi scheme, has pledged to repay his victims after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

Nissen and eight of his companies are accused of funnelling more than US$120m through a fraudulent scheme in which investors were promised “impossibly high returns” on resold tickets for events including Broadway musical Hamilton, Adele’s Adele Live 2016/2017 world tour, the Super Bowl and several other sporting events.

In reality, alleged prosecuting lawyers Morrison Cohen, “the ‘returns’ on the ticket sales were illusory, financed by cash infusions from new investors who were told their money would be used to purchase tickets for resale”.

Last June, a New York court ordered the seizure of cash, property, shares and other assets from Nissen, who allegedly conned investors out of $32m to prop up what the prosecution described as a “basic yet audacious” ticket-selling scam. One of his companies, National Event Company (Neco), was later given the go-ahead to sell its remaining inventory of approximately 11,000 tickets, after successfully arguing the tickets would otherwise become worthless.

“I wish to apologise to those who trusted me with their investments and loans”

Nissen yesterday pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud – fraud committed using electronic communications – before district judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan, reports Bloomberg Markets.

Nissen told Engelmayer he borrowed money from investors to buy large quantities of tickets, often at high interest rates, but was forced to seek more funding due to poor sales and “other business problems”.

“I know that my conduct was wrong and I wish to apologise to those who trusted me with their investments and loans and for any harm I have caused,” he said, adding he would work to repay investors.

The maximum sentence for wire fraud, if convicted at trial, is 20 years in prison, although Nissen’s plea agreement reportedly calls for him to serve between five and just over ten years when he is sentenced on 21 August. He also faces a fine of as much as $250,000 – or twice the gain to him or the loss to others – and will be ordered to pay investors $65–72m in restitution.


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Australian man arrested over Ed Sheeran ticket fraud

A 33-year-old man has been arrested and charged with fraud after allegedly taking money for non-existent tickets to this week’s Ed Sheeran show in Brisbane.

In a move welcomed by AEG Ogden, operator of Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium (52,500-cap.), Queensland police has charged the man with two counts of fraud after he was discovered to have allegedly “contacted interested concertgoers on a non-authorised online ticket platform and offered to sell them tickets”. The victims, all women aged between 40 and 55, paid the man via bank transfer but never received the tickets.

“This is another clear example of buyer beware,” says Queensland police’s Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence. “I urge entertainment ticket buyers and all buyers of online products to keep control of their purchase.

“Only use the official authorised sellers and their platforms. Do not move away from those platforms to buy tickets or items, particularly if asked to. It is most likely you are being scammed.”

“This is another clear example of buyer beware”

AEG Ogden’s chief operating officer, Rod Pilbeam, comments: “More than 100,000 tickets have been sold for next week’s concerts. However, if they were not purchased through the authorised agent, Ticketek, there could be cause for concern.”

Pilbeam says ticket touting is a “multi-million dollar industry that has attracted major criminal groups and tempted major companies to participate in the easy profits that flow from this deceit”, adding that “patrons should buy their tickets only from the authorised ticket outlet”, which for Suncorp Stadium is TEG’s Ticketek.

Sheeran’s ÷ world tour has broken records down under, selling more than 1m tickets for 18 dates across Australia and New Zealand. He will play Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 March.


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Ticket fraud up 38% in UK

The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has warned that ticket fraud in the UK continues to increase, as the ticketing industry body celebrates its 20th year in business.

New data released today by STAR and Action Fraud, the UK’s national cybercrime reporting centre, reveal there were 3,973 reported instances of ticket fraud in Britain over a six-month period in 2017 – over a thousand more than the 2,885 reported in the same period in 2015, a near 38% increase in two years.

The average value of loss, however, declined slightly, to £195.

“What these latest figures show is just how important it is to have an organisation like STAR in place,” comments Adrian Sanders, the association’s chairman. “Sadly, customers are continuing to fall prey to deliberate fraudsters and therefore need to know exactly where they should purchase tickets from safely. Despite the considerable advances in ticket fraud prevention, some customers are still too easily being tricked.

“Customers are still too easily being tricked”

“Purchasing from a STAR member ensures you are buying from a company that has signed up to the high standards of our code. It also means you have somewhere to turn to in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.”

In April, STAR announced more than 1,500 people had tried to buy tickets from a fake ticket agency, Surfed Arts, set up by it, Action Fraud and the City of London police.

STAR held its inaugural meeting in December 1997, and began its work as the self-regulatory body for the entertainment ticketing industry in 1998. Members of STAR, which include every major authorised ticket agency in the UK, agree and work to a strict code of practice.

Commenting on its 20th anniversary, which also sees STAR roll out a new website, chief executive Jonathan Brown says: “The ticketing industry has evolved enormously over the past twenty years, but the core values of what STAR was founded on remain unchanged. Customers deserve the very highest standards when it comes to purchasing tickets, and the work STAR has done, and continues to do, ensures that its members remain reputable and accountable for every transaction.”


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