Yorkshire trading standards officers have helped to secure the first successful prosecution against a company fraudulently reselling event tickets on a large scale.
The case followed an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, which is hosted by North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council.
Ticket touts Peter Hunter and David Thomas Smith ran the BZZ ticket agency selling tickets to events including concerts by Ed Sheeran and performances of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
They were convicted at Leeds Crown Court of fraudulently and dishonestly buying and reselling tickets at inflated prices and will be sentenced on 24 February 2020.
National Trading Standards investigators found the defendants used several dishonest and fraudulent tactics to purchase multiple tickets from primary ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster, Eventim and AXS, which meant BZZ dishonestly and fraudulently competed with consumers.
BZZ’s tactics allowed it to circumvented the legitimate platforms’ terms and conditions and their automated systems intended to block multiple purchases. Breaking the conditions made the ticket liable to cancellation but they continued to resell hundreds of tickets.
They were found to have used at least 97 different names, 88 postal addresses, more than 290 email addresses and concealed internet provider addresses to evade platform restrictions.
North Yorkshire’s executive member for trading standards Andrew Lee said: “This case has highlighted the ways some touts have defrauded consumers using the secondary ticketing marketing market. It not only warns touts that such practices will not be tolerated, but also calls on secondary ticketing companies to ensure consumers get fairer treatment.”
Lord Toby Harris, former leader of Haringey council, who chairs National Trading Standards, said the case was a landmark for the service and hoped “this prosecution leads to a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future”.