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Ready to go out? Look out for ticket fraud

Summer is well and truly on the way, and with lockdown easing you might be looking forward to going to some events. However, fraudsters are using this opportunity to make a quick profit. If you’re buying tickets, you need to be aware of ticket fraud.

What is ticket fraud?

Ticket fraud is the act of selling fake tickets. It includes selling fake tickets to an event that has sold out, an event where tickets aren’t even on sale yet, and tickets to a completely fake event that doesn’t exist. It’s a popular method of scamming customers out of their cash on social media, but it also exists in the form of phishing emails and fake websites.

How does ticket fraud work?

There are a few methods of ticket fraud, but social media is one of the most popular methods for fraudsters. This is due to the fact that a huge amount of events are advertised on social media, and social media can be utilised by scammers easily, quickly and cheaply. 

A fraudster, or a network of fraudulent individuals, will look for popular events on social media that have sold out. The organisers may have updated the title of the event with the words ‘sold out’, or it might be that they’ve posted in the event that tickets have sold out. Often people who haven’t been able to get tickets will post in the event that they’re looking for them, which is the perfect opportunity for scammers.

Someone committing ticket fraud will then comment on the post, either directly to an individual or within the event itself, stating that they have tickets that they no longer need, and asking buyers to contact them via private message. Victims will then get in touch with this individual, and ask to purchase them. 

The fake seller will ask for payment, usually by bank transfer. The victim will send across the money, and the seller will either delete the profile, or continually ask for more money until the victim realises that the tickets are fake.

How can you tell it’s a scam?

Ticket fraud is a unique kind of phishing scam. Usually the scammer has to convince the victim to want to part with their money using a threat, like stating that your computer has a virus, or that your bank account is unsafe, or that you have an overdue fine or even a tax rebate. However, with ticket fraud, the victim already wants to part with their money; they want to buy the tickets and are more likely to look past anything suspicious.

However, there are ways that you can tell you’re talking to a ticket fraudster. Firstly, check out their profile on social media. It’s likely to be populated with a huge amount of friends to make it seem legitimate, but will probably have very few posts from themselves. Check their location too; does it seem likely that they’d have tickets to an event in that area?

Next, ask for proof of the tickets before you send any money. If they’re selling physical tickets, don’t exchange money for them online - state that you’ll only buy in person. If they’re selling e-tickets, then ask to see their receipt. If they can’t produce it, or the receipt doesn’t look quite right, you could be talking to a scammer. 

It’s also worth looking at the price that they’re selling the tickets for; if it is a popular event that is sold out, does it make sense that they’re being sold for less than the price they were purchased? Finally, don’t send any money via bank transfer - paying through PayPal as a purchase (not a personal payment) or by credit card could allow you to recover the payment if it's discovered to be fraudulent. 

Like with any phishing scam, it’s important to slow down, trust your instincts and take some time to think critically about what’s being said. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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