Entertainment & Arts

Ticket fraud: Fans lose £1.2m in six months

One Direction Image copyright AP
Image caption Fans of One Direction were amongst those targeted

Music and sports fans have lost more than £1.2 million to ticket fraud in the last six months, police figures have revealed.

Nearly 3,000 cases were reported between May and October, with the Rugby World Cup, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift particular targets, said Action Fraud.

On average, customers who bought fake tickets lost £444 per transaction.

But one expert told the BBC the number of victims was much higher, as ticket fraud is "massively under-reported".

Reg Walker, head of the Iridium Consultancy, which tackles ticket fraud, said many people failed to contact police after refunds from their credit card companies came through.

"Just because you get your money back, it doesn't mean to say that no crime has been committed and you're no longer a victim."

He suggested the true cost of ticket fraud was "without a doubt" in the tens of millions.

In response to his comments, Action Fraud said: "Reported ticketing fraud losses run into millions of pounds, but the reality is the true scale of the problem is likely to be much greater.

"We would urge anyone who loses money to a ticketing fraud to report to Action Fraud so we can understand the true nature and scale of the problem and police forces can track down those most responsible."

Kitemark

A large number of the cases relate to two companies which the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau recommended be suspended.

Getsporting.com was accused of selling fake Rugby World Cup tickets; while CircleTickets advertised concerts by Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran, amongst others. Both were shut down and referred to local police forces for possible investigation.

Image copyright AP
Image caption GetSporting.com promised access to the Rugby World Cup, but never delivered the tickets it advertised

Among the victims was Robert Fox, from Bath, who paid Circle Tickets just over £200 to take his wife to a Taylor Swift show for their wedding anniversary.

"Circle Tickets had a pretty good rating through the standard review sites, and they had a reputable payment gateway," he told the BBC in June. "I was paying on a card, and it all seemed to be fairly normal really. I'm fairly accustomed to paying online so this didn't seem out of the ordinary."

GetSporting.com was shut down by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in October after it was found to be selling fake tickets to the Rugby World Cup.

One unfortunate Irish fan reported losses of as much as £5,000 on 20 tickets to the Ireland v France game, which they had purchased through the site.

Responding to the police statistics, the Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers (STAR) urged fans to look for their kitemark - a padlock with a star in the centre - to verify a ticket seller was genuine.

Image caption The STAR kitemark guarantees a refund should the event not go ahead as planned

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, from the City of London Police, said: "When people discover they have fallen victim to a fraud - be it through purchasing tickets that either don't exist or turn out to be counterfeit - it can be a devastating experience.

"The key to making sure you don't fall victim to this crime is to only use authorised sellers and if you have any doubts about the website, check out the reviews online.

"When it comes to making a purchase always use a payment card and never transfer the funds directly into another bank account."

'Floods of tears'

Mr Walker said the experience of helping fans who had been defrauded was "absolutely dreadful".

"We had some shows recently, such as One Direction, where we had in excess of 40 victims per night. All the victims came from overseas. One was a 19-year-old girl from Italy who travelled with her friend and her mother. They got to the doors and their tickets were invalid.

"I can't describe the state this girl got into. She was hyperventilating. She was just in floods of tears. And that's just one example. We've had victims of ticket fraud that were celebrating finishing chemotherapy. They got to the gates and were turned away.

"The impact on these people is devastating."

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