Friday, May 16, 2014

Just the Ticket?

Via Our Watch

The national police lead on economic crime has revealed that ticketing fraud cost victims over £3.7m last year and called for ticket distributors to work with police to tackle it.

Commander Stephen Head of City of London police was speaking as the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) launches a focus week on ticketing fraud which will run from Thursday 15 May to Thursday 22 May.

Ticket fraud can relate to flights as well as music, sporting or religious events. The exact nature of fraud modus operandi (MO) and data patterns can vary according to the ticket type being offered for sale, but the broad MO is that tickets are sold to victims which either don’t exist or never materialise.

The total value of ticket fraud in 2013 was just over £3,700,000, with 4,555 reports. Ticket fraud is largely low value but high volume and flight ticket fraud costs more than music or sport fraud. Flights and concerts are the two main ticket types sold fraudulently, with 22% of all reports relating to tickets for flights, and 25% relating to tickets for concerts or festivals.

National Police Lead for Economic Crime, Commander Stephen Head (City of London Police), said in advance of the week of action:

“Year on year, fraudsters are conning the ticketing-buying public out of more and more of their hard-earned cash. Millions of pounds were lost last year and millions more could go the same way in 2014. But, for so many consumers, the financial hit is not the hardest pill to swallow. It is the fact that these thieves have robbed them of a magical moment and deprived them of memories that last a lifetime - the chance to cheer their team to victory or call for an encore from their favourite artist in the company of family, friends and other fans gone."

“The key to avoiding the conmen and securing that ‘golden ticket’ is to only buy from a venue’s box office, promoter, official agent or reputable ticket exchange website. Taking a punt on an unofficial seller, be it over the internet or face-to-face, is just not worth the risk."

“Making life more difficult for fraudsters demands a well-coordinated approach from policing across the country, but must also be a priority for ticket distributers. I am calling on the industry to take a long hard look at the way tickets are sometimes sold in this country to ensure their processes are as resilient as they possibly can be to the growing threat of fraud.”

Research by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) showed that fraudsters worked through autumn and winter to prepare for the summer festivals. One fraudster said, “After six months hard work, I sat back and let the money roll in.”

During the week of action, operational activity will take place in targeted hotspots around the country. In addition, forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own messaging on the topic and have been supplied with promotional materials from partner organisation Get Safe Online.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of getsafeonline.org said:
‘Criminals have a captured market of fans that will do anything to get a ticket, which makes festivals and concerts a prime target for fraud. It’s incredibly frustrating for many festival goers, especially if they’ve waited months for the event. Get Safe Online is concerned to see such a high proportion of these figures relating to online fraud. There are though some simple steps that can be taken to protect you from fraud and we would urge the public to be cautious when spending money on tickets as we head towards the summer months.’

For advice on how to avoid ticketing fraud visit Get Safe Online. If you have been a victim of ticket fraud, or any other form of fraud, report it to Action Fraud.
Citizens Advice’s Scams Awareness Month runs throughout May. More information on that is available here.
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Editor: As we saw last year with the HD Fesitival at Forest Farm, fake tickets mean that a lot more people turn up for the event than otherwise would do, which creates problems for the local community, the organisers and the Police in controlling unexpected large crowds.

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