Avoid Ticket Fraud!
03 April 2017
Hoax ticket website set up to 'scam' fans and bring
fraud into the spotlight
- More than 1,500 people tried to buy tickets from a fake
website set up to raise awareness of fraud
- More than 21,000 people have reported falling victim to
ticket fraud in the last three years
- More than £17million has been lost to ticket fraudsters
in the last three years
- Victims are most likely to be men in their
Recently the City of London Police and Action Fraud in
partnership with Get Safe Online and the Society of Ticket Agents
and Retailers (STAR) have been working to show members of the
public just how easy it is to be tricked into buying fake tickets
online. During a series of Facebook flash sales over 1,500 people
tried to purchase music tickets from a fake ticket sales website
Surfed Arts purported to be a secondary ticket provider and the
Facebook adverts were targeted at people living in specific areas
where there are sold out music events happening this summer.
Adverts were targeted at fans of Adele in London, Ed Sheeran in
Manchester, Iron Maiden in Birmingham, Coldplay in Cardiff and
Bruno Mars fans in Leeds. Women aged over 65, living in London were
the people who tried to buy the most fake tickets whilst men and
women aged 35-44 living in Birmingham were the least inclined to
click on the spoofed advert.
Those who clicked through to the Surfed Arts website were
immediately told that they were not able to purchase the sold out
event tickets and advised on how to protect themselves from falling
victim to real ticket fraudsters in the future. The purpose of the
hoax was to try and directly affect consumers' online behaviour and
make them think twice before buying tickets from illegitimate
secondary ticket sites.
A recent report written by the City of London Police's National
Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has shown that people are
increasingly using other secondary tickets sources such as social
media in order to purchase tickets for popular and often sold-out
In the last three years more than 21,000 people have reported
falling victim to ticket fraudsters and the majority of these
reports concern the secondary ticket market and other secondary
sources; for example social media or independent ticket
Recent legislation introduced will prevent the use of 'bots'
buying tickets to re-sell at inflated prices, but the threat of
bogus ticket outlets remains. Sites like Surfed Arts don't have any
tickets to sell in the first place; buyers pay for what looks like
tickets to concerts, festivals or sporting events only for the
seller to disappear with the victim's money or send them
counterfeited tickets that aren't valid for entry.
The most common type of ticket fraud victim to report to Action
Fraud is a man in his twenties. 51.9% of men reported falling
victim whilst 48.1% of women reported. Those in the age group 20-29
most commonly reported to the service. Bank transfers were the most
commonly used method to buy tickets with 64.6% of people saying
that it was the payment method used when they were defrauded.
Of those reporting, more than 33% said that the fraud had a
significant effect on their life and an additional 7.8% said that
being defrauded in this way has severely affected them.
A recent interview of a convicted ticket fraudster undertaken by
the City of London Police proves that fraudsters use ticket
websites as a source of income and have little remorse for how it
may affect the person they are defrauding.
The convicted fraudster said:
"I sold fake tickets for every festival and every music event.
The high value tickets were the way for me, but I know lots of guys
that are doing the lower value tickets too. I was earning thousands
of pounds a day".
City of London Police's National Coordinator for
Economic Crime, Temporary Commander Dave Clark said:
"No matter what you're buying a ticket for: a concert, a sports
event or a flight, you need to remain vigilant and be aware that
there are fraudsters all over the globe trying to make money out of
people's desire to buy tickets quickly and easily online.
"Always buy tickets from an official event's organiser or
website and if you are tempted to buy from a secondary ticket
source, always research the company or the person online before
making the purchase.
"Our fake website 'Surfed Arts' was put together to show just
how easy it is to become a victim and we want to help to change
consumer's online behaviour so that they don't fall victim to real
fraudsters in the future".
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online
"Clever criminals will try every trick in the book to make us
part with our hard-earned cash. One way they'll try and do this is
by luring fans into buying tickets for concerts and sports events
which are sold out.
"Many of the adverts for these fake tickets seem like 'too good
to be true' offers, with tickets often being heavily discounted.
However, this means people often act before thinking. The 'Surfed
Arts' ticket hoax clearly demonstrates how easily we can be duped
when we think there is an offer to be had. Luckily our scam didn't
have a nasty surprise at the end, but some useful information on
how to protect yourself against ticket fraudsters.
"To avoid becoming a victim, do as much research as you can to
ensure that the provider or person you are buying from is
reputable. Also, when buying an event ticket, use a credit card if
you can to ensure you are protected when paying. If someone asks
you to transfer money directly to them, you'll have absolutely no
protection if you are scammed."
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive of the Society of Ticket
Retailers and Agents said:
"These figures demonstrate that ticket fraud is a continuing
problem and that, too often, people are misled by fake promises.
Fraudsters prey on the anticipation and excitement that surround
our fantastic sports and entertainment industries.
"It is vital that customers take care when buying tickets.
Protect yourself by following safe ticket-buying advice and by
taking time to research the authorised sellers for an event before
parting with any money.
"STAR and its members are committed to providing customers with
high standards of service and information and to playing our part
in helping you avoid the fraudsters."
How to Protect Yourself from Ticket Fraud:
- Only buy tickets from the venue's box office, the promoter, an
official agent or a well known and reputable ticket exchange site.
Should you choose to buy tickets from an individual (for example on
eBay or on a social networking site), never transfer the money
directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such
- Paying for your tickets by credit card will offer increased
protection over other payments methods, such as debit card, cash,
or money transfer services. Avoid making payments through bank
transfer or money transfer services, as the payment may not be
- Check the contact details of the site you're buying the tickets
from. There should be a landline phone number and a full postal
address. Avoid using the site if there is only a PO box address and
mobile phone number, as it could be difficult to get in touch after
you buy tickets. PO box addresses and mobile phone numbers are easy
to change and difficult to trace.
- Before entering any payment details on a website, ensure that
you're on a secure page by: 1 - Checking that the web address
starts with https (the 's' stands for secure). 2 -
That there is a locked padlock icon in the browser's address
- Getting your tickets from a member of STAR
ensures you are buying from a company that has signed up to their
strict Code of Practice governing standards of service and
information. STAR also offers a conciliation service to help
customers resolve outstanding complaints.
- If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to
Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre by
There is more advice on buying tickets on the STAR