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Viagogo scam – Britons targeted with fake concert tickets

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Britons are racing to social media to detail what they describe as a complex viagogo scam, when attempting to see their favourite music artists perform.

James Idris, of Dagenham, wanted to see famous Norwegian music duo from Oslo, Karpe, at O2 Forum Kentish Town on Thursday 11th May 2023. Concerned he would miss them in London as Ticketmaster sold out, he headed to the popular reseller platofrm, and was excited to see standing tickets for £54.

James rushed to purchase them and he received them via email. He travelled the hour and 15 minutes it took him via train and met his friends in the priority queue as he is an O2 customer, and his friends arrived a short while later.

His horror began when the doors opened and security starting moving the queue inwards. As they attempted to scan his ticket they immediately noticed it was a screenshot that would not scan, because their tickets are now a moving barcode, and James’ wasn’t.

The fraudulent E-ticket

They told him he could not enter the venue, and the box office could not offer him the sale of a replacement ticket as they were sold out. The security guard said they no longer recommend tickets purchased on the reseller platform and said he should chase them for a refund. His friends were able to get in and he had to make his way home.

A google search reveals a Facebook group called Victims of Viagogo, with a strong 15,000 group membership, dedicated to people describing a similar fate with the platform. It is an international group, where thousands of Britons describe buying non-existent tickets or tickets intentionally delivered incorrectly,

A spokesperson for O2 Academy said the following: “We have recently placed signs at our venues that make it clear, that we advise the public if they purchased their tickets through Viagogo or Stubhub, they should not expect them to scan when they arrive at our venues.”

At times, when dealing with the company, they make efforts to “reassure you that the tickets are authentic”, and that “event organisers make claims that tickets resold on marketplaces like viagogo will be cancelled and so not valid for entry, in an effort to dissuade people from buying and selling tickets on markets like viagogo”.

This routine email, which many complainers have received, goes on to say “we strongly believe these attempts to restrict people’s ability to buy and sell goods from each other are unfair and unenforceable”.

However, scanning review websites like Trustpilot and SiteJabber confirm that this issue is not the mere occasional failure in daily business, but a widespread, systematic problem victmising the public on a global scale. The prevalence of the issue calls into question the company’s internal processes that ensure a safe, secure marketplace.

The platform has a large percentage of market share but unusually low customer satisfaction

The Facebook movement argue the company must do better, because ticket purchasing is one of the few industries where the consumer is nearly powerless to employ measures that will significantly reduce the likelihood of being a victim of fraud.

For instance, James Idris’ seller was a company calling themselves TIX4U, and operating from 22 Hayes Business Studios, UB3 3BB, but there is no company formally registered with such information nor is it possible to locate any identifying information about this seller.

We examined sales on the platform that lead to successful entry into the designated venue, and in every case the company associated with the transaction was positively identified through public and/or local records, suggesting there are individuals or groups utilising this reseller marketplace for criminal means: the ‘viagogo scam’.

People victimised in this fashion say it must be asked how the company allowed a ticket onto their marketplace in a format that will never allow entry to the associated venue. They highlight that their internal processes are failing to identify glaringly obvious attempts to deceive consumers, or where there is likely an innocent error.

Another victim, Harrison Ogunkoya, made plans to travel from Birmingham to Manchester to see Brent Faiyaz on 19th October 2023 at O2 Apollo Manchester after buying tickets on the marketplace, and the seller has declared them ‘paper tickets’. Harrison was surprised to see they were paper tickets and did some digging online.

The marketplace reassured him that the tickets would lead to successful entry at O2 Apollo. Unconvinced, he called the venue and they made it clear Ticketmaster is the offical retailer and have only released E-tickets with a moving barcode – as all their tickets are – meaning any form of paper ticket would not be successful at the venue.

Harrison has said his efforts at achieving a refund have still been unsuccessful. He has said he would’ve been “devastated” if he thought nothing of the ticketing method and made the journey from Birmingham to Manchester only to be turned away.

The marketplace has been embroiled in various legal battles in recent years, such as a $7 million penalty for misleading Australian customers, a €23.5 million fine for breaching Italian rules, and the pursuit of a court order by UK’s CMA to enforce compliance with UK consumer protection law.

The rise of automated software to create ticket exclusivity and skyrocket ticket value is meaning ticket resellers sell-out primary retailers quicker than ever before. This is pushing more and more people onto reseller marketplaces, but it is important to exercise caution because it could lead to pain and disappointment.

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Viagogo have been contacted for comment.

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