London Couple Jailed For Making £9 Million Reselling Concert Tickets
The gig is up for two ‘greedy, fraudulent’ ticket touts: in a landmark ruling, they’ve been handed jail sentences after raking in a whopping £9 million in concert ticket resales.
Married couple Peter Hunter and David Smith, from Tottenham, north London, used multiple identities and bots to buy more than £17 million worth of tickets to see the likes of Ed Sheeran, Adele, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, and NFL matches in London.
Across a seven-year period, in which they also traded under the company names Ticket Wiz and BZZ Limited, the pair sold them on for more than £26 million – depriving thousands of amazing opportunities in aid of ‘greed and financial gain’.
Hunter, 51, and Smith, 66, used software and fake names (as well as roping in friends and family) to scoop up hundreds of tickets time and time again, going on to sell them for ‘more than twice’ the face value, Leeds Crown Court heard. The couple used four prolific secondary ticketing websites – Viagogo, GetMeIn, StubHub and Seatwave – to unload their assets at eye-watering prices.
Following a three-month trial, both men were found guilty of three counts of fraudulent trading and one count of possession of articles to be used with fraud. Hunter was sentenced to four years while Smith was handed 30 months in jail.
It’s a welcome prosecution and the first of its kind in the UK since National Trading Standards began investigating the reselling of tickets on the internet in 2017 (for example, Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp gave evidence saying he had spotted £75 seats for a charity gig on sale for £7,000).
Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, told the court:
The defendants were the principal organisers and beneficiaries of the fraudulent behaviour reflected by counts one to four. The motive for the offences was greed and financial gain.
The business model used by Ticket Wizz and BZZ Limited was fraudulent from the outset – using multiple identities to conceal that it was the company that was purchasing tickets from consumer facing websites for commercial resale.
He added the scam was ‘sophisticated’ and their use of bots to bypass limits on how many tickets they could buy was an aggravating factor.
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said:
The terms and conditions of the primary selling sites made it clear they should not be bought for commercial purposes. You bought hundreds of tickets at any given time and resold them for more than twice the price.
You have used the company for a fraudulent purpose to make gains for yourself. A lot of people in this case paid a lot more than they could have paid. It gives me no pleasure to pass these sentences, but I have to do my public duty.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, called the ruling ‘an important milestone in the fight to tackle online ticket touts who fraudulently buy and resell tickets to thousands of victims to line their own pockets’.
He added: ‘Today’s sentences send a strong message to similar online ticket touts: these are criminal offences that can lead to prison sentences. I hope this leads to a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future.’
The sentencing will come as music to the ears of those who’ve battled with Ticketmaster on the day of sale, only to be faced with a never-ending stream of error screens before tickets inevitably go up on other websites for twice, nay, thrice the price.
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