Monday, 21 March 2016

Social media users warned over rise in online ticket fraud

Online ticket fraud leapt by 55% in 2015 as criminals increasingly made use of social media to rip off music and sports fans, according to new research.

More than a fifth of the crimes were instigated via Facebook, with Twitter accounting for a further 6%.

The figures come in the wake of warnings that some fans are putting themselves at risk by sharing images of event tickets on social media sites that can then be used by scammers to create fakes.

The data was issued by the Get Safe Online awareness initiative and the City of London police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, and includes all forms of ticket fraud, ranging from music and sporting events to flights and holiday packages.

At least £5.2m was lost to ticket fraud in 2015 – up from £3.35m in 2014. However, this headline figure is likely to underestimate the scale of the problem, as it only includes actual reported crimes. Some people are too embarrassed to own up to having been scammed, while others decide to write off the loss.

The nature of the frauds can vary, but it usually involves tickets being sold that either don’t exist or never materialise.

According to the data, major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup and Premier League football matches accounted for more than a quarter of all incidents of ticket scams. The second biggest category was concerts and festivals.

Those looking for tickets on Gumtree should be particularly careful: 22% of all the reported incidents took place on the classified ads website.

Meanwhile, those most at risk of buying fake or non-existent tickets were found to be people aged between 20 – 29, who made up 28% of all cases.

Some fans have been sharing images of event tickets on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Scammers search sites for such posts and are able to create fake tickets by copying the barcode. It means that when the genuine holder arrives at the event, he or she could find that someone who bought one of the fakes has already used it to get in.

AXS, the in-house booking service for London’s O2 arena, has warned customers that “sharing images of your tickets via social media can lead to others being able to gain access with your ticket”. The O2 arena offered this advice: “If you want to post a photo of your ticket to let your friends know you’re going, just keep your hand over the barcode so it can’t be read.”

With the Uefa Euro 2016 championships coming up in June and the summer music festival season not far off, Get Safe Online said it was urging fans to be vigilant when trying to buy tickets, “especially on social media sites, which are increasingly being used by criminals to facilitate ticket fraud”.

City of London police Commander Chris Greany, who is the national coordinator for economic crime, said: “The fact that people in their 20s are most likely to fall victim to ticket fraud is concerning, as this is the age group who are known to be most cyber-savvy. If this group is falling victim, it suggests the fraudulent ticket sellers are very convincing.”

He added: “We ask that people only buy tickets from official sites, and when buying resold tickets ensure that they are buying from vendors who have been approved by the event organiser.”


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