May 15th 2014
Ticketing fraud cost victims in the UK over £3.7m last year and ticket distributors should be working with police to tackle it.
The observations were made by Commander Stephen Head of City of London Police, the national police lead on economic crime. Cdr Head was speaking as the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) launches a focus week on ticketing fraud, starting today.
Ticket fraud can relate to flights as well as music, cultural, sporting or religious events. The exact nature of how the fraud is perpetrated can vary according to the ticket type being offered for sale, but in general, tickets are sold which either do not exist, or fail to materialise. In 2013 the total value of ticket fraud was just over £3,700,000, with 4555 reports. It is largely low value / high volume fraud, with and flight ticket fraud understandably costing more than music or sport fraud.
Flight and concert tickets represent the most common cases, at 22% and 25% respectively.
Loss and disappointment for victims
Cdr Head commented: “Year on year, fraudsters are conning the ticket 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.”
Cdr Head went on to advise: “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.”
Appealing to the industry, he said: “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 is quoted as saying: “After six months’ hard work, I sat back and let the money roll in.”
Week of action
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 us here at Get Safe Online.
Tony Neate, our Chief Executive at 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."