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Ticket fraud on rise

Reports of online ticket fraud rose by 55pc in 2015, costing the UK public £5.2m. According to actual reported crimes between November 2014 and October 2015, major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup and Premier League football matches accounted for over a quarter of all incidents of ticket scams. This is followed by fraudulent tickets to gigs and festivals (15pc), says Get Safe Online and the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

Those most at risk of buying fake or non-existent tickets are aged in their 20s (28pc) followed by those in their 30s and 40s (23pc for each age group). With the UEFA Euro 2016 Championships coming in June and the summer festival season not far off, Get Safe Online is urging sports and music fans to be vigilant when trying to buy tickets, especially on social media sites, as criminals increasingly use social media to do ticket fraud. Some 21pc of crimes relating to ticket fraud were instigated via Facebook and 6pc on Twitter; 22pc of reported incidents took place on Gumtree.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online said: “Criminals have captured a market of fans who will do anything to get a ticket, which makes festivals, concerts and big sporting events a prime target for fraud. If you really want to see your team play at a big sporting event or get tickets to one of the big summer festivals, it can be really tempting to try and get tickets from all kinds of places other than the official websites. Unfortunately, the nature of ticket fraud means the higher the demand for an event, the higher number of potential victims the fraudsters can target. Often ticket prices are ramped right up – so you risk losing a lot of money if they turn out to be fake or don’t exist. Likewise, if the price seems too good to be true, it’s quite likely that you are being scammed.

“Criminals are clever and often use pre-existing websites or fan forums to help them appear legitimate, or in fact mimic genuine websites to help them dupe their victims into handing over money. Take your time before making a payment and try to do as much research as you can to ensure that the provider or person you are buying from is exactly who they say they are. These criminals will jump at any chance to exploit innocent people, but it’s worth remembering that their scams don’t work without people handing over money.”

City of London Police’s Commander Chris Greany, National police lead for economic crime, said: “Ticket fraudsters will use every opportunity they can to try and exploit innocent people who are simply looking to book an event or holiday. The newly released figures show that fraudsters will particularly target those who are spending large amounts of money on flight tickets or tickets for holiday packages.

“The fact that people in their twenties are most likely to fall victim to ticket fraud is concerning as this is the age-group who are known to be most ‘cyber-savvy’. If this group is falling victim it suggests that the fraudulent tickets sellers are very convincing and have the ability to exploit just about every type of internet user.

“We ask that people only buy tickets from official sites and when buying resold tickets ensure that they are buying from vendors who have been approved by the event organiser. if you do fall victim to a ticket fraud please report it to Action Fraud so we can identify how this criminality is being committed and shut it down.”

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John Grimm, Director at Thales e-Security, said: “Unfortunately, as e-tickets become more common, so does the risk of fraud. Without proper safeguards, e-tickets are much easier to replicate and fake than the traditional printed tickets and event organisers increasingly face the reoccurring issue of balancing user convenience with security. As more fans fall victim to fraud, it’s never been more important to look at how event organisers can reduce the risk and ensure tickets are valid and with their rightful holder.

“We can take a leaf out of the airline industry to see how this can be achieved. Since the introduction of electronic boarding passes, security has had to a priority. By utilising digital signatures for boarding pass barcodes, their integrity and authenticity can be validated. This helps protect customers against forgery and enables validation upon check-in. Private signing keys underpin the security of the entire system and when these keys are properly managed and secured, would-be criminals are unable to fraudulently assume the identity of the signing airline and issue what appear to be legitimate tickets. Such methods will help event organisers tackle this growing issue of ticket fraud.”

Ticket buying advice: https://www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/buying-tickets/.

And Cordula Schellenberger, UK Country Manager at Risk Ident, said: “More of us are shopping online for our goods and services these days, and ticketing is no exception. Sadly, fraudsters have developed the same interest as well. They are indiscriminate and will use whatever tactics and technologies it takes to try to illicitly obtain money from customers. Increasingly, organised groups are buying huge numbers of event tickets with the sole purpose of reselling them on official-looking sites at ridiculously inflated prices. Not only does this potentially rip off genuine fans, but it definitely reduces the number of real fans accessing tickets, and makes it less likely that all the seats at an event will be filled, meaning underused event capacity and empty seats, despite higher demand than capacity.

“The closer it gets to an event, the more difficult it is for official ticket merchants to verify fraud in time. Automated, superior device fingerprinting technology can help analyse data quickly and with the necessary accuracy, letting these operators know whether the buyer is attempting to buy tickets from a recurrent fraudulent device, or displays suspicious behaviour. We all go to gigs, concerts and sports events for the excitement and passion of seeing our favourite athletes or musicians live, but merchants have to ensure that they stay one step ahead of the fraudsters. Intelligently using data science can accurately identify and stop fraud, while allowing genuine fans to buy tickets with security, resulting in no empty seats and a passionate, enthusiastic atmosphere.”

Pictured: Wembley Stadium station.


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