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Beware! Buying 2010 Festival Tickets & Wristbands


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A one-way ticket to the blues


Source: Guardian Unlimited


Music fans were this week warned of an explosion in the number of fraudulent gig ticket websites, with fears growing that the number of people likely to be ripped off this year may well exceed the estimated 30,000 people fleeced in 2008.


Guardian Money can reveal that some of the sites offering tickets to events such as this year's Reading, Leeds and V Festivals are identical to scam websites that left many people out of pocket last year - yet the UK authorities seem powerless to act.


The problem is these sites tend to be hosted outside the UK - with Hungary a favourite safe haven. In many cases the Metropolitan Police has written to the web-hosting companies and domain registrars to ask them to pull the plug, but these requests are often refused. And even when the authorities succeed in getting sites shut down, the fraudsters behind them often simply move elsewhere and relaunch with slightly different names.


These are not amateur-looking websites; they often carry all the official branding (stolen from legitimate sites, of course) and have plausible web addresses, which is often enough to fool people into thinking they are real.


Last year, thousands of people were left high and dry by a number of dodgy firms, including SOS Master Tickets, whose website was taken down after it took money for 2008 V Festival tickets that never arrived.


At the time, Guardian Money told how Melvin Benn, director of the Reading and Leeds festivals, said he was sure that the notorious ticket tout Michael Rangos was behind the website readingfestivaltickets.co.uk which left an unknown number of punters out of pocket.


Experts in this type of fraud are already bracing themselves for a bad year. Reg Walker, who is responsible for anti-counterfeiting operations at Reading and other major events, warns: "There has been a 10-fold increase in the number of scam websites. I think it will actually be worse [than last year]. These sites have been up for a lot longer this time around." He and others are currently monitoring close to 40 sites that "cannot possibly provide the tickets they are advertising".


Three to steer clear of are readingfestival2009.com, leedsfestival2009.com and vfestival2009.net. They are very slick and bear a striking similarity to readingfestivaltickets.co.uk, leedsfestival.net and vfestival.net respectively, which were up and running last year. The three new sites give no names, addresses or telephone numbers - you have to email them.


However, Guardian Money has established that readingfestival2009.com and leedsfestival2009.com have links to the same post office box number in the US city of Vancouver, while vfestival2009.net (like its predecessor, vfestival.net) has connections to the address "PO Box 99800" in the small Californian city of Emeryville.


Another dodgy company, bookmetickets.com, allegedly operates from the same Emeryville PO box number. It offers tickets to UK gigs by acts such as Coldplay, Take That and the Killers, claims on its website to be based in New York, and takes payments in sterling and Hungarian forints.


Yet another, Londonticketsexpress.com, also has links to that Emeryville PO box number, and to an address in Cyprus - but claims to be based in Hungary. It is a copy of London Ticket Shop, a Rangos website shut down by the UK government.


All too often, Hungary and scam websites go hand-in-hand. Walker, who is also head of the commercial protection unit at London's 02 Arena, says the country seems to have become a "safe haven" because some of its web-hosting companies and internet service providers simply will not pull the plug on rip-off sites. He appealed to the Hungarian authorities "to clamp down on fraudulent websites being hosted in Hungary ... set up specifically to defraud the public in the UK".


Rangos has, in the past, operated companies based in both Hungary and Cyprus. He told us: "I categorically deny that I have any connection with any of those websites you mention ... I also challenge what you say Melvin Benn has been quoted as saying, an issue which I have raised directly with him and have had no confirmation that he has said any such thing."


Other sites to avoid include:


Takethattour.net Offering tickets to Take That's summer stadium shows, which has links to that post office box number in Vancouver.


Tinthepark2009.net Flogging tickets to the T in the Park festival in Balado, Kinross-shire, in July. Intriguingly, this website gives a registered address in the Scottish town of East Kilbride and a local landline number (there was no one available to take our call when we rang). This address is a business centre. A search of the web indicates the site is connected to a chap called Alberto Perez in Panama.


Tinaturnertickets.net, Eddieizzardlive.com and Cliffrichardtour.com As the names suggest, these offer tickets to Tina Turner, Eddie Izzard and Cliff Richard's forthcoming shows. All have links to that well-used post office box number in Vancouver. The Cliff Richard site gives its address as St Dunstans Hill, Sutton, Surrey.


Coldplaylivetickets.net Apparently also part of Mr Perez's Panamanian empire. Previously traded as Coldplaylivetickets.com.


Downloadfestival2009.com A slick-looking site offering tickets to the Download Festival taking place at Castle Donington in June. It supposedly operates out of a village in Holland.


Ticketingdirect.net and 123tickets.net Identical sites claiming to operate from an address in Vancouver (the Canadian one this time), though, in reality, the latter seems to be based in Edinburgh.


If you do get ripped off but have paid by credit card, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act the card issuer is jointly liable for the failure to provide goods or services. If you paid by debit card, contact your bank as soon as possible and they may refund your money.


Enforce photo ID to squeeze out touts, government tells promoters


Music and sporting event promoters are being encouraged to bring in tough measures to combat touts, such as printing the buyer's name on tickets and requiring them to show photo ID to get into the venue.


On Thursday, the government said it wanted to see "much more use" of innovative measures that have successfully prevented touts from buying up tickets for some high-profile events, including Tom Waits's concerts in Edinburgh last summer. Waits fans were only allowed to buy two tickets each, with the buyer's name and that of their guest printed on each one. Ticket-holders needed to show photo ID corresponding to the names on the tickets to get in.


Launching a consultation on the ticket market, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport suggested that the UK trade body, the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star) could oversee a voluntary "code of principles" which its members would have to follow. Customers buying tickets from firms displaying the Star logo would then know they were dealing with reputable sellers.


In recent years, obtaining tickets for in-demand events has become an increasingly stressful and expensive business. However, some artists have come up with their own solution to the problem of profiteering touts - they seem to be attempting to price them out of business. Top-price tickets for Van Morrison's London shows in April, which went on sale yesterday, are priced at a cool £200 - plus booking fee, of course.


You’ve read it. Now review it.


Source: Guardian Unlimited

Date Published: February 21, 2009



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The best way is to keep to the official sites listed on the main festival website (Ticketsweb, Ticketmaster, Seetickets/Gigsandtours etc. True you have to pay sky-high booking fees, postage fees, dog-food fees etc, but you know you are protected.


Or if the ticket price is more that £100, put it on a credit card and you should be covered by Section 75.

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