Photo Credit: Benjamin Sharpe
Concert ticket scams are soaring in 2023. Here’s a peek at some of the latest data.
Banking group Santander says customer reports of ticketing scams have more than doubled in the UK within the last year. The company, which has 14 million active customers, reports that the number of ticket scams reported by its customers has grown 141% year-on-year, with 1,905 reports in the first seven months of 2023.
Santander says illicit sales are typically advertised on social media or through fake websites. Two-thirds of customers’ claims (67%) said the scam originated from social media. The highest reported claims accounting for nearly half (47%) of all claims made were concert and festival tickets, followed by football (17%) and flights (7%).
“Whether buying tickets for your favorite artist, the Rugby World Cup, or your football team, don’t score an own goal by getting scammed,” said Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander. “If anybody has been contacted by a stranger or sees an advert online with a deal that seems too good to be true, it may be exactly that. People should be alert to potential scams and only buy tickets from official ticket sellers.”
Santander reports that customers aged 19-34 accounted for 60% of all claims, while those over 35 reported the most significant losses with an average of £194 ($242). The company advises customers to always buy tickets through trustworthy official sellers and use payment methods that offer more protection against fraudulent purchases, such as credit cards.
But the UK is one of many regions seeing a marked increase in scams within the last year. Ottawa police have reported an uptick in reports of fake ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s Toronto stops on her global Eras Tour. Demand for tickets in Toronto is high as the only Canadian stop on the tour, and Ottawa police report that some victims have lost around $2,000.
Police urge ticket buyers to take the time to meet with prospective sellers and inspect what they’re purchasing before closing a deal. Ottawa’s Fraud Unit investigators say the most prominent trend is buyers putting down large amounts of money on unseen goods with unknown sellers online and never receiving the product.
“This really is a buyer-beware situation, and residents need to be smart about how they shop online,” says Shaun Wahbeh with the Ottawa Police Fraud Unit.
While it’s challenging to pinpoint comprehensive statistics, reports of ticket scams encompassing sports, concerts, festivals, and other events to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) increased from 13,168 in 2020 to 17,941 in 2021. That number dipped slightly in 2022 but has continued to grow throughout 2023. A spokesperson for the BBB noted to AARP that the reports probably only represent a fraction of the actual number of scams.
Notably, even consumers who purchase legitimate tickets should be careful to refrain from posting photos of their purchase online, as thieves can steal the barcode or other information to attend the event themselves or create counterfeit tickets to resell to unsuspecting buyers.
With some of the biggest names in music touring this year and seasons starting for football and other sports, ticketing scams for concerts, festivals, and sports events are significantly high. Counterfeit tickets and various online scams have been an issue for years — especially as technology improves each year and social media makes it increasingly easier to reach a large audience.
Digital ticketing has made it easier for fans and venues but has also created an opportunity for scammers. If someone purchases a digital ticket from an unknown seller, there’s no effective way to test that ticket’s legitimacy until they’re at the gate — and by then, it’s often too late. But it’s more than just third-party sales that catch buyers unaware.
A notable amount of people who report being the victim of a ticket scam say that they thought they were buying a ticket from Ticketmaster — because they purchased from a site that looked like Ticketmaster. Not double-checking the URL of a website before making a purchase has caught many potential buyers off-guard, leading to an unfortunate loss of money.
Ticket scammers know that many fans have yet to become familiar with newer technology, with many preying on that lack of knowledge by offering digital tickets for sale on social media, Craigslist, or fake websites designed to look like reputable sellers.
Unless the purchaser knows the seller personally, buying tickets with peer-to-peer services like Venmo, CashApp, or PayPal is not recommended, according to the BBB. These services do not offer the same consumer protections as a credit card, and many scammers will encourage buyers to pay them through these methods for precisely that reason.