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Reports of concert ticket fraud double in just one year

08:49 27/06/2024

Reports of concert ticket fraud have doubled in the course of just a year, helped along by the multiplying number of online scams on social networks and resale platforms, according to Belgium's economy ministry.

Victims have ended up paying for tickets they never receive, or buying fake tickets and being refused entry once they arrive at a concert, RTBF reports.

The economy ministry recently launched an awareness-raising campaign in response to the increase in reports of ticket fraud.

“Last year, we received 360 reports of consumers buying fake tickets,” said spokesperson Étienne Mignolet.

The figure is more than twice as many as the previous year, 2022, which saw 141 reports.

The financial loss reported by victims also climbed to €60,615 in 2023, nearly five times higher than in 2022. On average, each reported victim lost €168 to fraudsters.

“However, these figures only represent the tip of the iceberg – the actual loss is much higher than that reported to us,” an economy ministry report said.

“It’s likely that victims are often ashamed or feel that there is no need to report the scam, as they have lost their money anyway.

"However, it is really important for victims to report these practices and the damage they have caused. In this way, we can track down the perpetrators and reduce the number of victims."

Social media has abetted the scammers. Véronique from Charleroi told RTBF that she tried to purchase tickets advertised through a Facebook group.

“I got in touch with the gentleman in question, who kindly told me that the tickets were still available,” she said.

“They were in his name. I felt I could trust him, so I paid €180 for the two tickets, and two minutes later I was completely blocked.”

Even victims who took extra precautions, such as asking for photos of both the tickets and identity cards before sending money, were scammed and left without their money or tickets.

Warning signs of a scam include messages copied and pasted by profiles with different names, created recently, sometimes in a different language.

The economy ministry recommends that people always buy their concert tickets via the official event website and avoid buying on social networks and resale platforms, which are still the preferred channels for scammers.

When it comes to sold-out events, certain organisers sometimes offer waiting lists or other ways of buying tickets from other people in complete legality. This is the case with the Les Ardentes festival which has set up an official and secure website for ticket resale.

“We're quite surprised by the increase in numbers, but we've been paying attention for a long time,” said Jean-Yves Reumont, organiser and programmer of Les Ardentes.

“With our ticketing service, we insist on personalised tickets. Tickets are also sent out quite late. So when you buy a ticket, you get a confirmation email, but the barcode doesn't arrive until a few days before the festival.

"As for ticket resale, we've set up an automated resale platform. And we make it clear to festival-goers that only tickets bought on the secondary market via this platform or via Ticketswap are valid."

Ticketswap, a platform specialising in the resale of tickets, is a well-known alternative for concert-goers that allows people to securely buy and sell tickets.

“We have a partnership with this platform, which enables us to invalidate the ticket sold and generate a new barcode for the buyer,” Reumont said, nonetheless advising caution online.

“Generally speaking, anything bought outside these platforms can be subject to scam or fraud.”

Victims of such ticket fraud can report the scam via the website.

Written by Helen Lyons