A mother and daughter have shared their experiences of falling victim to ticket scammers in the hope that others think twice before buying tickets from illegitimate platforms. 

Sophie, 17, and Juliette, 49, gave their story as part of a new awareness campaign launched with Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) that urges people to avoid fraud by taking more care when buying tickets for live events. Fraudsters will pose as a website or agent for a music concert or festival, a sporting contest, or a live comedian or performer, meaning victims will purchase tickets that either don’t arrive or turn out to be fake.

Sophie, 17 told Action Fraud: “I’ve been a massive fan of Ariana Grande since I was eleven and have always been desperate to meet her. To make this happen, I did lots of research into how much VIP tickets would cost. I got a job as a sales assistant, worked lots of over-time and saved-up for almost two years to raise the funds. It was completely devastating to lose so much money. When I first found out about the scam, I didn’t leave the house for two days. My advice to anyone buying tickets is to tread extremely carefully before you hand over any money! I’ve now saved up further and I’m finally going to meet Ariana when she comes to Birmingham in September.”

Juliette, 49 told Action Fraud: “We were victims of a sophisticated scam from a company using an obscure web-site – not one of the big-name secondary ticketing sites. I believe I was targeted from my Twitter profile as someone who enters competitions and goes to concerts a lot. I first became aware of the company when they were promoting a competition to win tickets for a Robbie Williams concert. I entered and won a single ticket. Most people don’t go to concerts alone and the company appears to use this ploy to con lots of people into buying other expensive tickets. At the time, having had the good experience of being a competition winner, they seemed a reasonable option when I found out they were selling VIP tickets for Ariana Grande.

“I usually buy my tickets from established primary ticket-sellers or direct from the venue, but I was aware VIP tickets can be sold by other agents. Sophie and I decided to proceed using my bank details. The tickets came to £854 which was one VIP ticket for Ariana Grande on 19 August and 2 standard seated tickets for 17 August. This was face value price, so it rang no alarm bells. The tickets were “bought” on the day of release. The company asked for the entire payment as a bank transfer. I said I’d prefer to pay the majority on credit card – which I did. This was all in December 2018 and it wasn’t until February 2019 that we found out this was a scam by reading about it on social media. I immediately called my bank to investigate and reported the scam to Action Fraud.

“My bank and building society were unhelpful and internally no-one appeared to know who to talk to. I spoke to their customer care, fraud team and various other people. I had a good rant at all the banks on Twitter – which actually seemed to get the best response. My advice to anyone buying tickets would be to never pay by BACS but always use a credit card as there is a level of consumer protection. In total we have lost £854 – we have just recovered £564 by sending the police report to my credit card company but won’t be able to recover the £300 from my bank. I still have nightmares over the whole experience. If just one person learns from my situation, I will feel slightly better. I can’t urge people enough to only use ticket-sellers that are STAR members.”

There are steps people are advised they can take in order to protect themselves, including:

  • Only buying tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site
  • Avoiding paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal offer greater protections against fraud;
  • Being wary of unwanted 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. STAR has also published an online guide to buying tickets safely which can be found at www.star.org.uk/buy safe
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