An international bogus ticket gang foiled by trading standards
Fraudsters fleecing music and comedy lovers by selling non-existent tickets to top concerts have now been put out of business following action by Wandsworth’s trading standards team - but not before they swindled around 1,900 people from all across the country.
The gang were advertising bogus tickets for popular performers including JLS, Coldplay, Barry Manilow, Westlife Il Divo and Michael McIntyre.
The fraudsters set up at least half a dozen websites promising tickets for these artists at some of London’s best venues including the O2 Arena.
Following the council’s investigation, all the websites have been shut down and action has been taken to stop the gang collecting any more money from unsuspecting victims.
Now the council is warning music lovers to carefully check who they buy tickets from – and to avoid handing over cash to unauthorised outlets.
The scam came to light because the fraudsters were inadvertently using a Wandsworth Council owned building as a mailing address.
Trading standards officers were alerted after a woman from Aberdeen contacted bosses at the O2 because her JLS tickets hadn’t arrived. Staff at the music venue then traced the gang’s “registered” address and tipped off trading standards.
The council’s investigators then discovered that the gang had used the same address to register seven bogus websites.
They immediately identified the Internet Service Provider (ISP) hosting these sites and took swift action to have them shut down. They also contacted Google and made sure the websites were de-listed from the company’s search engines and also took steps to deactivate the online facilities the gang was using to process cash payments.
As a result of the council’s swift action, some £40,000 was frozen before it could be pocketed by gang members. This will now be used by credit card companies to reimburse customers who have lost out.
Chief trading standards officer Christopher Roe said: “As soon as we got wind of what was happening we were able to step in and put a stop to this unpleasant scam.
“Unfortunately a lot of people have paid money for tickets that are never going to arrive, but at least we have managed to stop the criminals pocketing all the cash and ensured that £40,000 is available to help pay back the victims.”
Jonathan Brown, Secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) said: “Wandsworth Council Trading Standards are to be congratulated for taking prompt action and preventing further customers from being defrauded in this scam. Ticket crime cynically preys on the enthusiasm of fans to see their favourite entertainers, but can be avoided by taking care when buying tickets. We would always recommend that customers secure their tickets from STAR members who are authorised by promoters and venues to sell tickets on their behalf.”
The websites that trading standards shut down were:
The Consumer Direct “Tick It” Site has more information and advice on how to avoid being conned when buying tickets. For more information visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Consumerrights/Yourconsumerrightswhenbuyinggoodsandservices/DG_194548
STAR’s website also has lots of information on buying tickets safely. Visit www.star.org.uk/consumeradvice/buyingonline
And The Safe Concerts website has a search function for legitimate ticket sellers (and to help identify scammers) www.safeconcerts.com/tickets/buying-tickets-safely.asp
Anyone who believes they may have fallen victim to this kind of fraud should log the details at www.actionfraud.org.uk. They should also contact their bank or credit card provider because they may be able to claim a refund.