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UK ticket touts convicted in ‘landmark’ £6.5m case

Two people have been convicted of fraudulently and dishonestly buying and reselling tickets for high-profile concerts by acts including Ed Sheeran.

Mark Woods, 60, and Lynda Chenery, 51, both from Dickleburgh in Norfolk, were unanimously found guilty of fraudulent trading offences today (13 March) at Leeds Crown Court. Maria Chenery-Woods, 54, and Paul Douglas, 56, entered guilty pleas earlier in the process.

The four defendants ran multi-million-pound limited company TQ Tickets, which they used to purchase hundreds of tickets for events and concerts by the likes of Lady Gaga, Gary Barlow, Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller and Little Mix, before reselling them, often at hugely inflated prices.

The trial heard the firm sold tickets worth more than £6.5 million (€7.6m) over the course of two-and-a-half years.

An investigation led by National Trading Standards’ eCrime Team found that the defendants used several dishonest and fraudulent tactics to purchase multiple tickets from primary ticket sites, circumventing the platforms’ automated systems to block multiple purchases.

“I hope this prosecution supports progress towards a step-change in the secondary ticketing market”

The defendants then used false identities to resell the tickets – in some cases at 500% more than face value – on secondary ticketing websites.

The court heard they also engaged in fraudulent trading by “spec selling” – listing tickets for sale on secondary ticketing websites that they had not purchased and did not own. Where ticket purchases could not be met, the defendants tried to make it appear that tickets had been sent by giving fake postal trackers and sending empty or torn envelopes.

“This is a landmark case for National Trading Standards and I hope this prosecution supports progress towards a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future,” says Lord Michael Bichard, chair of National Trading Standards.

Stuart Galbraith, CEO of promoter Kilimanjaro Live, which co-promoted Ed Sheeran’s 2018 UK Tour, was one of the witnesses in the case, and describes the verdict as “good news for live music fans, who are too often ripped off and exploited by greedy ticket touts”.

“We welcome today’s prosecution and the strong message it sends to greedy ticket touts looking to exploit genuine live music fans,” says Galbraith.

“We want to keep ticket prices accessible for as many people as possible and hope to get everyone a good seat at a fair price”

Statements were also read out at the trial by Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp of Grumpy Old Management.

“We want to keep ticket prices accessible for as many people as possible and hope to get everyone a good seat at a fair price,” says Camp following the verdict. “Today’s prosecution will help protect music fans and sets an important precedent in the live entertainment industry that I hope will be celebrated by live music fans.”

Chenery-Woods is Woods’ wife and Chenery sister, while Douglas is Chenery’s ex-husband. All four defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

The hearing is the latest in a series of prosecutions against ticket touts led by investigators at the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, which have resulted in prosecutions, jail terms and millions of pounds in proceeds of crime returned to the exchequer.

 


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