Ticket fraudsters conned consumers out of almost £4 million in the last financial year, according Action Fraud (AF) – the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.
AF data shows that 4,982 people fell victim to ticket fraud in the 2021/22 financial year, with an average loss of more than £750 per victim. AF said it received 623 reports of ticket fraud in September last year alone.
City of London Police detective chief inspector Craig Mullish said criminals took advantage of coronavirus restrictions being lifted last summer and targeted victims looking for tickets to high-profile sporting events and festivals.
“We have seen reports of ticket fraud rise further this year as well,” he said.
While some ticketing service provides have welcomed a recent Government announcement that it plans to enhance the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) powers to “tackle rip-offs and bad business practices” other are less convinced it will benefit the sector.
Under the Government’s planned changes, the CMA will be able to directly enforce consumer law, including new powers to fine firms up to 10% of their global turnover for mistreating customers. This replaces going through a court process which can take years.
Commenting on the Government’s planned new consumer protection rules, The Ticket Factory director Richard Howle said, “Together with the rest of the primary ticketing industry, we’ve campaigned for penalties relating to these practices and now, finally, it has been brought up the political agenda.”
In August last year the CMA urged the Government to bolster the laws on ticket touting, and make the sale of tickets on secondary platforms such as viagogo and StubHub subject to tighter rules.
The CMA’s recommendations included a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market; ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites; and a new system of licensing for platforms that sell secondary tickets that would enable an authority to act quickly and issue sanctions such as taking down websites.
Adam Webb of anti-ticket touting campaigner FanFair Alliance said, “Eight months later, and the Government still hasn’t responded to these proposals.
“Unless there’s a willingness to take enforcement action against rogue companies, the impact of these new powers is likely to be negligible.
“As we’ve seen with secondary ticketing and viagogo, it feels the CMA are currently hardwired towards a strategy of “compliance” – and so despite having a court order in place, and despite overwhelming evidence that viagogo has operated in flagrant breach of the law, the CMA’s overriding aim is to nudge them towards acting lawfully.
“Such a softly-softly policy has delivered short-term positives, but not the lasting transformational change that would prevent consumers from being put at risk.
“This situation is compounded by the CMA’s lack of consumer research. Despite investigating secondary ticketing for more than six years, I don’t believe they’ve ever solicited views from UK citizens about their understanding of this market.
“It’s an absolutely crazy situation, and means the CMA is tasked with taking decisions to protect consumers without any understanding of the impact of those decisions or there likely effectiveness.”
Viagogo issued a statement in which it said it has always welcomed attempts to establish greater consumer protections, particularly when it comes to the risks associated with unregulated ticketing channels: “Our company has always co-operated fully with any CMA guidance and will continue to do so in order to best serve the British public.”