Married gay couple guilty of £11 million ticket fraud
A married gay couple made £7million in profits by using special software to buy thousands of concert tickets and then reselling them at inflated prices.
Peter Hunter, 51, and David Smith, 66, used special software to buy thousands of concert tickets, spending £4million between 2015 and December 2017.
They then resold them again at inflated prices on secondary seller websites, making £10.8million in sales.
Multiple identities to scam the system
Hunter and Smith live together in north London.
But the National Trading Standards eCrime team said they used at least 97 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 email addresses to evade restrictions on the platforms they used. They also used multiple credit cards and mobile phone numbers.
Indeed, they bought around 1,000 tickets every 72 hours.
They targeted events including Ed Sheeran, Gary Barlow, Coldplay, The Killers and Taylor Swift gigs.
They also traded tickets for in-demand play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. And the scam reached into TV shows including Eurovision, The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.
Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp told jurors they spotted £75 seats at a charity gig on sale for £7,000.
The court also heard how they used the ‘big four’ secondary ticketing sites – Viagog, Get Mein, StubHub and Seatwave – to sell their tickets at a profit.
Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said Hunter and Smith were ‘dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed’.
However, Hunter’s lawyer Ben Douglas-Jones QC, said his client was no more greedy than any business person providing a service.
He argued Hunter was a trusted and reliable seller who helped fans who missed the small window of opportunity to buy tickets on primary seller websites.
First case of its kind
The jury found Hunter and Smith guilty of three counts of fraudulent trading and one count of possessing an article for use in fraud. The trial at Leeds Crown Court lasted three months.
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar granted them bail until sentencing but warned the men they may face jail. The court will sentence them on 24 February.
This is the first time a court has convicted bulk ticket resellers in the UK. But they may not be exceptional. National Trading Standards believes the bulk-reselling industry may be worth around £700m based on 2017 figures.
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Author: Tris Reid-Smith