Festival-goers fall for fake take website hoax

More than 1,500 people attempted to buy tickets from a fake website which was set-up by police to highlight fraud.

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 called ‘Surfed Arts’.

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, including Adele, Ed Sheeran, and Bruno Mars.

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 events.

In the last three years more than 21,000 people across the country 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 websites.

Legislation has recently been proposed which may 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.

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.”

Detective Inspector Rob King, from the Economic and Cybercrime Unit, said: “It can be so frustrating when the tickets are sold out for a music concert or sporting event that you desperately wanted to go to, which often sees people heading to secondary selling sites.

“Whilst many of these are genuine, fraudsters are continually working to find new ways for us all to part with hard earned cash and bogus ticket sales are one of them. Many of these fake tickets will be often be heavily discounted, which unfortunately means that people often act on impulse before thinking.

“The fake website ‘Surfed Arts’ was put together to show just how easy it is to become a victim of ticket fraud, and to hopefully help to change consumers’ online behaviour so that they don’t fall victim to real fraudsters in the future.”

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 as PayPal.

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 recoverable.

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 bar.

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 have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting their website here

For more advice around fraud, visit the dedicated Stamp out Fraud webpage here