With the easing of Covid restrictions still on course for July 19, just in time to catch the tail end of the festival season, Action Fraud are warning people to take extra care when buying tickets for festivals, gigs and events.
Figures from the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime have revealed almost £1 million has been lost to ticket fraud so far this year already.
Action Fraud have revealed that 1,085 reports of ticket fraud have been made so far this year, equating to an average loss of £850 per victim.
There were 374 reports of ticket fraud in March alone, equating to a loss of over £200,000. It is the highest number of reports received since March 2020 when lockdown restrictions were first introduced.
Some festivals had to be cancelled, most notably Glastonbury, which revealed its intentions to pull the season's centrepiece event very early on. Download Festival in Leicestershire went ahead last month via a government test scheme, which allowed 10,000 people through the gates, a far cry from the 110,000 that usually attend.
But other well-known festivals are set to go ahead beyond the July 19 “Freedom Day” date, assuming the government’s data is sufficient enough to stick to that date. The Suffolk-based Latitude festival will go ahead with full capacity on the first weekend after July 19 (July 22 to July 25), and will be the first “big” festival to take place after England "re-opens", while Derbyshire’s Y Not festival will follow from July 30 to August 1.
Many festivals and events scheduled to go ahead have already sold out - including the Reading and Leeds festivals in August. But this is something criminals are more than aware of and indeed keen to take advantage of.
Action Fraud have stated: “To avoid disappointment, only buy tickets from the venue directly, an official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site. Don’t be duped by offers on secondary ticketing websites or social media, as this is often where criminals will advertise fake tickets to popular and sold-out events. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Social media is a particularly abundant area for scams, with one Twitter user losing £200 after paying for a concert via PayPal, and another victim losing almost £250 after joining a Facebook group where they saw someone selling two VIP tickets to a festival. They paid via a digital wallet provider and never received the tickets. In both examples, the fraudsters blocked each user so there could be no further dialogue between them.
But it’s not just a concern via native platforms. Genuine-looking websites claim to be selling tickets and lure people in with promotions or special offers. The tickets are either non-existent or fake.
And ticket fraud is not exclusive to live events, either. Fraudsters have capitalised on the prevalence of online events during the pandemic, and they will almost certainly target sporting events such as Wimbledon, The Olympics in Tokyo and of course Euro 2020.
Indeed, with England through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 to face Ukraine in Rome on Saturday (July 3), don’t be tempted to buy tickets online or on social media. Italy is categorised as being a ‘yellow’ destination on the government’s red, amber and green list, and the official England Supporters Travel Club have received no ticket allocation from the FA. The government have urged England fans not to travel to seek tickets when in Rome.
Not only will fans be expected to pay high prices for tickets - which could be bogus anyway - on arrival in Italy, anyone travelling from the UK will have to quarantine for 5 days, meaning that even if they left for Rome today they would have to isolate until Sunday, July 4, the day after the Ukraine match. Breaking quarantine rules could see fans paying a fine of 3,000 euros (£2,580).
Action Fraud have put together a list of signs of ticket fraud which they hope will protect people against fraudulent activity.
Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site.
Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering your money if you become a victim of fraud.
Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Is the vendor a member of STAR? If they are, the company has signed up to their strict governing standards. STAR also offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help customers with outstanding complaints. For more information: star.org.uk/buy_safe
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).