More than 1,500 music fans were tricked into ‘buying’ tickets in just 48 hours from a fake website which was set up to raise awareness of fraud.
The phony site, named Surfed Arts, was created by Action Fraud to show how easy it is to become a victim of ticket scams.
It used Facebook adverts and flash sales to target people living in specific areas with sold out music events such as an Adele in London and Ed Sheeran in Manchester.
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Rising fraud: In the last three years 21,000 report being caught out by fake ticket websites
In the last three years, 21,000 people have reported being caught out by fake ticket websites to Action Fraud.
At the same time £17million has been lost by individuals and businesses through ticket fraud.
The majority of cases have taken place on secondary ticket websites, social media feeds and through independent ticket websites.
The website was set up by the City of London Police and Action Fraud in partnership with Get Safe Online and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers.
It was created to raise awareness of the growing number of fraudulent ticket sales online.
It purported to be a secondary ticket provider but as soon as consumers tried to buy tickets they were told the website wasn’t real and given advice on how to stay safe online.
Recent legislation was brought in to try and clamp down on the use of ‘bots’ – online systems which buy tickets automatically online and then resell them at inflated prices.
But criminals are still setting up websites to sell tickets which don’t actually exist.
Usually these sites ask for a bank transfer for the value of the tickets and then either don’t send the tickets, or send counterfeit tickets which are not valid.
Action Fraud says the most common type of ticket fraud victim it sees is men aged in their twenties.
Those in the age group 20–29 are most likely to be a victim and making a bank transfer was the most common way people are defrauded.
A fake website was set up purporting to have tickets to sold out events around the country
More than 33 per cent of those reporting a ticket fraud to Action Fraud said it had had a significant effect on their lives while 7.8 per cent said it had severely affected them.
Dave Clark, City of London Police’s national coordinator for economic crime, said: ‘No matter what you’re buying a ticket for: a concert, a sports event or a flight, you need to remain vigilant and be aware that there are fraudsters all over the globe trying to make money out of people’s desire to buy tickets quickly and easily online.
‘Always buy tickets from an official event’s organiser or website and if you are tempted to buy from a secondary ticket source, always research the company or the person online before making the purchase.’
Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online added: ‘Clever criminals will try every trick in the book to make us part with our hard-earned cash.
‘One way they’ll try and do this is by luring fans into buying tickets for concerts and sports events which are sold out.
‘Many of the adverts for these fake tickets seem like "too good to be true" offers, with tickets often being heavily discounted.
More than £17 million has been lost to ticket fraudsters since 2014
‘However, this means people often act before thinking.
‘The Surfed Arts ticket hoax clearly demonstrates how easily we can be duped when we think there is an offer to be had.
‘Luckily our scam didn’t have a nasty surprise at the end, but some useful information on how to protect yourself against ticket fraudsters.’
The fake website experiment follows on from a Government crackdown launched last month on online touts using ‘bots’ to snap up event tickets.
‘Bots’ – short for ‘robots’ – are sophisticated computer programs that allow touts to buy thousands of tickets online in seconds, which then often reappear at grossly inflated prices on resale websites.
In February, online ticket resale site Viagogo was accused of ‘moral repugnance’ for selling tickets to an Ed Sheeran Teenage Cancer Trust gig for up to £5,000.
Meanwhile an £85 ticket to see Adele at the O2 in London last year was also reportedly being sold for £24,840.
In December, the Competition and Markets Authority confirmed it was investigating the second-hand ticket market amid concerns that consumer protection laws were being broken.
The ‘enforcement investigation’ by the Competition and Markets Authority will look at seller information, connections the seller has with event organisers and whether there are any restrictions on the use of resold tickets that could result in a person being denied access to an event.