As the summer approaches there’s always a scramble for tickets to the hottest festivals over the summer. However, last year my enthusiasm got the better of my reason and I sadly got scammed. The bright lights of Glastonbury looked so tempting after all the press coverage, and I am without a doubt not alone in getting scammed. Just last month the BBC reported that
Two men from Anfield have been charged over an alleged ticket forging operation for Liverpool FC matches. Police launched an investigation after fans from all over the world never received tickets bought online, while others received fake ones.
And just last year
Hundreds of Beyoncé fans were left disappointed after discovered they had been sold fake tickets to the star’s concerts as part of a scam worth at least £28,000” and were turned away at the door.
So, let me recount my tale of woe, in the hope that knowing how I got scammed might help others in similar positions.
As a singer, I had been dying to go to Glastonbury for years but somehow I was never organized enough to get there. My great friend Valerie suggested that we go together. However, the only snag was that all the tickets were sold out. Nevertheless, we were determined to find tickets so I posted on Facebook, twitter, and finally called a PR company who I knew often had tickets for exclusive sold out events behind the scenes for sale. They had two tickets–but it took me three days to call them back, only to find they also had sold out. I even called a friend who was a PR for Glastonbury.
No luck there, unless I wanted to spend 5,000 on camping. I even contacted Shangri-La and various tents and arenas that were showcasing dance music acts, and offered myself for free as a singer, I so badly wanted to go. We tried everything, but no luck there either. I was too shy to ask a DJ who I often work with if I could sing one song during his set as a way in; I thought that would only annoy him and wouldn’t help our working relationship.
Finally, after much Internet searching a good friend found a site that had tickets for sale via their website. In our other enthusiasm we bought then very quickly so not to be left out yet again. It seemed like a genuine site and a well made website. My friend had even bought a flight (she lives abroad) and we had everything planned and set. But then suddenly 3 days before Glastonbury started, Valerie got an email saying, “sorry the tickets are no longer available” and how she would be refunded. But three weeks later, the website owner a “Harry Fitzgerald” vanished into thin air and stopped answering any emails or calls. We even got a lawyer friend to pose as an interested party in the Wimbledon tickets – he had for sale on his site… but they somehow recognized his number he was calling from, the same area code, and didn’t answer.
In the world of forgery, there are numerous ticket sales on fake websites luring innocent people in, and there is little protection against fake ticket fraud. Ukviptickets used a fake postal address in Geneva. It also lists a fake address in London as 21 Bond Street–21 New Bond Street is the Burberry store and 21 Old Bond Street is a luxury apartment building. So another fake address – another dead end.
The fake supplier Harry Fitzgerald was not reachable over the phone. So it’s very difficult to sue him directly. Even trying to find the correct name was hard – typing Harry Fitzgerald into Google doesn’t amount to very much. It’s a common name, so it’s very hard to know who the liable person is behind the fake company or if he’s operating under a fake name. So it’s hard to know what to report as a fraud offence to the police who would ideally start an investigation and find those responsible and prosecute them. But since there are no leads, it’s hard to know where to begin. Another option was asking PayPal to cancel their payment to ukviptickets. However, PayPal just say, “send us an email and we will look into it” but it seems that PayPal neglects liability for tickets purchases according to their general terms.
But there is one clause saying, “You did not receive the item you paid for with PayPal” and to them write them with an explanation, so far PayPal have not responded.However, I have heard via friends that PayPal are good at honoring their polices of protecting the consumer.
Initially I thought canceling the payment through MasterCard would only make myself liable to PayPal and they could sue me, but in the end credit card insurance covered this type of fraud because the card issuer is liable for a failure for series to be provided as long as the price of a single ticket is more than £100. Thank God. I may have got my money back but I never got to Glastonbury and wasted a lot of time trying to find out how to get my money back.
However, there are many other pitfalls that can happen when buying scam tickets to be aware of. Always make sure the tickets are delivered to you – what could happen is that the company selling you the tickets might tell you a company representative will be you at the venue on the day only then nobody shows up. Or you might receive the tickets via email or in the mail and when arriving at the event the organizers tell you the tickets are fake.
However, in some cases you just have to swallow your loses – and be less keen for tickets. We all know the cliché to only buy from the venue box office, official agent or reputable ticket sites but sometimes that’s not possible when the most sort after events sell out in minutes. It’s still possible to buy from smaller Internet companies, however you must just be more wary.
In the end, it hardly seems fair. Hopefully governments will make stricter laws against people who commit Internet fraud, the same way people give away free songs over the Internet. If I could give any advice to anyone searching for sold out tickets to amazing events, it would be: first check the website payment pages are secured by a padlock symbol in the address bar and make sure the website starts with https. Ask the company questions; for instance, where are they based? Where is their office? Make sure they have a landline number in the UK and a proper address. Check the company is actually at the address that they say they have their offices at and avoid all companies that only have PO box addresses. It can be a pain, but make sure you read the terms and conditions, some websites might state there are no refunds… And google, google google–I later found there were several people on facebook complaining about Ukviptickets.
So what’s the future for scam ticket fraud? The main issue is a lot of frauds aren’t reported because victims often feel blamed for being defrauded, as people feel ashamed or embarrassed for being conned.
However, the public are more increasingly aware of threats, which is an essential step in helping individuals protect themselves from fraud. Online frauds are being tackled by the police through better systems and controls in our businesses. Victims are now better supported, and fraudsters and enablers are being targeted. The Uk government have invested more to improve response to computer crimes as part of the “national cyber security program” and banks and payment institutions are joining to strengthen their industry wide abilities to tackle frauds’.
But in the end, the only real way to help prevent more fraudsters is to keep reporting them. So don’t be shy, step forward and tell your story, too.