Two online ticket touts, Peter Hunter and David Smith, have been found guilty of fraudulent trading after making millions reselling tickets for high profile gigs and plays.
The married couple used multiple identities and computer bots to harvest large numbers of tickets for a range of events, reselling tickets on sites including Viagogo, GetMein, StubHub and Seatwave.
The pair’s site’s operated for two-and-a-half years, buying £4m worth of tickets that they sold for £10.8m.
Leeds Crown Court heard that Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift’s gigs were big money spinners for the duo, as well as Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.
They will be sentenced on 24 February.
The prosecution is the first of its kind in the UK, and is the result of York-based National Trading Standards (NTS) eCrime team investigating the reselling of tickets on the internet in 2017.
Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, told the jury that Hunter and Smith were “dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed”. NTS said Hunter and Smith deployed at least 97 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 email addresses to evade platform restrictions.
Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp told jurors the act had decided to take a stand against touts after spotting £75 seats at a charity gig on sale for £7,000.
Hunter’s defence team told the jury that they were a trusted source of tickets with thousands of positive reviews. Ben Douglas-Jones QC, for Hunter, said his clients were just businessmen providing a service.
He said sellers like Hunter provided a valuable service to acts who struggled to sell out venues and to customers who found it difficult to buy from the primary sellers in the tiny windows when tickets are issued.
Mr Douglas-Jones said his client accepted breaching terms and conditions of the ticket sellers but said that was not a criminal act and it was known across the industry many of the rules were unenforceable.
Hunter, 51, and Smith, 66, of Crossfield Road, were both found guilty of fraudulent trading and possessing an article for fraud.
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar granted bail, but warned the men they could be jailed.