Online ticket fraud rose 55% last year, reaching over £5 million in losses as scammers took to social media to offload fake or non-existent tickets, according to the latest official figures.
Get Safe Online and the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) put the actual figure at £5.2m over the reporting period November 2014 and October 2015.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, major sporting events like the Rugby World Cup and Premier League football matches accounted for the biggest number of scams – over a quarter of reported incidents.
Next came fraudulent tickets to gigs and festivals (15%).
Social media is increasingly the platform of choice for ticket scammers to sell their wares, Get Safe Online reported.
Nearly a quarter (22%) of crimes relating to ticket fraud began on Gumtree, while Facebook accounted for 21% and Twitter 6%.
Get Safe Online CEO, Tony Neate, urged fans to resist the temptation to seek out tickets from unofficial channels.
“Criminals are clever and often use pre-existing websites or fan forums to help them appear legitimate, or in fact mimic genuine websites to help them dupe their victims into handing over money,” he claimed in a statement.
“Take your time before making a payment and try to do as much research as you can to ensure that the provider or person you are buying from is exactly who they say they are. These criminals will jump at any chance to exploit innocent people, but it’s worth remembering that their scams don’t work without people handing over money.”
City of London Police commander Chris Greany asked consumers to buy only from official sites, or if purchasing resold tickets, to do so from vendors approved by the event organizers.
John Grimm, director at Thales e-Security, claimed ticket fraud has increased because e-tickets are easier to replicate and fake than traditional printed tickets.
He argued that the industry could follow the lead of the airline sector in making this harder.
“By utilizing digital signatures for boarding pass barcodes, their integrity and authenticity can be validated. This helps protect customers against forgery and enables validation upon check-in,” Grimm explained.
“Private signing keys underpin the security of the entire system and when these keys are properly managed and secured, would-be criminals are unable to fraudulently assume the identity of the signing airline and issue what appear to be legitimate tickets. Such methods will help event organizers tackle this growing issue of ticket fraud.”