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Met calls for more regulation to stop ticket crime

By | Published on Wednesday 20 February 2013

Metropolitan Police

The Metropolitan Police have called for new regulations and possible new legislation to tackle ticket fraud. The police authority highlights the issues around ‘ticket crime’ in a new report that capitalises on the work it undertook as part of Operation Podium to crack down on anyone selling tickets illegally for the London 2012 Olympics.

The Met reckons that ticket fraud in the UK generates £40 million a year for the fraudsters, and wants government, the live industry and consumers to help lead a crack down.

The police call on the live sector to work with search engines and SEO experts to ensure that legitimate ticket sellers score higher in web searches than dodgy fraudsters and touts, and propose new laws to make it easier to shut down fraudulent ticketing selling operations (where cash is routinely taken for non-existent tickets). Interestingly the ability for illegal sites to rate higher than legit operations in web searches is a big issue for the music rights sector too.

The Met report also calls on consumers who lose out due to dodgy ticket sellers to report incidents to relevant authorities and agencies like Action Fraud, partly so action can be taken against those ripping off ticket buyers, and partly so that the powers that be can get a better idea of the scale of the ticket crime problem on a national basis.

Although the Met’s report is primarily interested in full-on ticket fraud – the selling of non-existent tickets – it does also touch on ticket touting, a much discussed issue in the live sector of course, given the rapid growth in recent years of online touting, aka the secondary ticketing market.

While touts with actual tickets to sell are not breaking the law as such (not criminal law anyway), some feel that the growth of unofficial and secondary ticketing agents online – not to mention the confusing and frustrating ways in which some primary ticket sellers operate – creates the kind of messy market place that makes it easier for actual fraudsters to operate.

Commenting on the new report, Detective Superintendent Nick Downing told reporters: “Experience shows that fraud is the most prevalent form of ticket crime and causes the greatest harm – conservatively estimated at £40 million per year. Criminals involved in this are also highly likely to be involved in other crimes”.

He added: “We also know that it is extremely under reported, and there is a lack of public awareness and understanding which means that people find it difficult to distinguish between an authorised, unauthorised or fraudulent websites. For these reasons it is important that ticket crime is properly tackled and the awareness is raised on how the public can take steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim of these crimes”.

The ticketing industry’s main trade body, the Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers, welcomed the Met’s report this week, with their man Jonathan Brown saying: “This industry has never before benefited from such concentrated work to help uncover criminality and fraud which continue to cause detriment to the ticket buying public”.

Meanwhile Ed Parkinson of ticket resale site Viagogo also welcomed the report, stressing his opinion that established secondary ticketing sites help combat fraud by providing guarantees to consumers buying from sellers that use the exchange. He told CMU: “Fans simply want to know their tickets are valid, will arrive on time and get them into the event. Viagogo’s role is to guarantee that happens. As a result, we have significantly reduced the number of fraudulent tickets being sold in the UK. We welcome the findings of this report because we’ve always warned consumers of the dangers of buying from street sellers or unsecured websites which don’t offer the same guarantee that we do”.