Trading standards team warns of big rise in online ticket scamming

Summer is on its way and that means one thing to music lovers: festival time.

Don't be caught out by ticket scammers or you might not see your favourite act this summer.
Don't be caught out by ticket scammers or you might not see your favourite act this summer.

Whether you want to go Wild at Wickerman, are Plugged into Electric Fields, Running Doune the Rabbit’s Hole or totally going for T in the Park there’s a big event that’s right for you.

Of course, all of these events, along with major sporting fixtures such as the European Football Championships and Wimbledon, attract huge crowds and huge competition for tickets.

And where there’s such high demand you’ll always find con artists trying to trick desperate punters out of their money.

What’s more, such ticket fraud is on the rise. According to the National Trading Standards eCrime Team it has soared 55 per cent in the last year, up from £3.35 million in 2014 to more than £5m last year. On average, customers who were taken in by the ticket scammers lost £444 per transaction.

Mike Andrews, lead co-ordinator for the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, said “As summer music festival line-ups are announced and the squads for Euro 2016 are being confirmed, we expect criminals to exploit fans’ excitement by flogging fake tickets on forums, sham websites and social media.

“Criminals selling fake tickets online is becoming more and more prevalent – to avoid disappointment we urge fans to be on guard when purchasing sports and music tickets. Only those fans with official tickets will be guaranteed admission – tickets not bought through official channels could be liable for cancellation.”

To help music and sports fans avoid the scammers, the National Trading Standards eCrime Team has produced a checklist to for people scouring the web for tickets:

Buy your tickets or check ticket availability with an official agent or reputable ticket supplier – if in doubt, check the website of the festival or event for more information on their official vendor

You should always avoid buying from secondary ticket sellers or tickets on social media. However, we know some music and sports fans desperate for tickets will search for opportunities to buy from unauthorised vendors. If you are engaging with unofficial sellers you should always:

Research the seller/company thoroughly online;

If it is a company, check how long they have been registered at Companies House (the longer the better – if they recently registered it could be a scam);

Check the seller or company online for unfavourable reviews on SiteJabber, TrustPilot or Feefo and beware of false positive reviews, a favourite tactic of scammers;

Check ticketing forums for unfavourable feedback and again beware of false positive reviews;

When purchasing tickets online you should:

Use a credit card to pay for your tickets and never pay by direct money transfer;

Only pay via encrypted payment facilities (look for the padlock in the address bar);

If you are in possession of genuine festival or concert tickets don’t post pictures of them online (they could be copied and your genuine tickets may become useless).

Councillor Michael McPake, Convenor of North Lanarkshire Council’s Environmental Services Committee, which oversees Trading Standards matters, added; “Be extra vigilant if tickets are on sale for an event which has ‘sold out’ – fraudsters may be cashing in by offering non-existent tickets. Only buy from official sites and beware of cut price offers”.

If you are concerned that a sale may be fraudulent report it to Trading Standards consumer helpline by calling 01236 856361.