U.S. Markets close in 2 hrs 9 mins

Ticket resellers on trial for multi-million pound scam 'dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed', court hears

Telegraph Reporters
Peter Hunter and David Smith are accused of fraudulent trading relating to tickets they bought and resold to fans - Getty Images Europe

Two "ticket touts" who allegedly used computer bots to collect and resell large numbers of tickets to a range of events were "dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed", a jury has been told. 

Peter Hunter and David Smith - who traded as Ticket Wiz and BZZ - went on trial at Leeds Crown Court on Thursday.

They are accused of fraudulent trading relating to tickets they bought and resold to fans hoping to see top acts like Ed Sheeran, big sporting events, the Chelsea Flower Show and West End shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Opening the prosecution case, Jonathan Sandiford said the pair used computer software including bots and the Insomniac browser to make multiple applications to primary ticket selling sites including Ticketmaster, posing as individuals and hiding their true identifies.

They "harvested the tickets in large numbers" then sold them on secondary ticketing sites including the "big four" - Viagogo, Get Me In, Stub Hub and Seatwave - at inflated prices, Mr Sandiford said on Thursday.

The prosecutor said: "The prosecution say that is a case about greed.

"The prosecution say that the two defendants were effectively internet ticket touts and that they were also dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed who, over a number of years, exploited the love and passion that many people have for their favourite pop music artists and bands in order to milk them for profit."

Mr Sandiford added: "The defendants were competing with consumers to book tickets that should have been available for those consumers to purchases at face value with the intention of milking those consumers for profit by offering the tickets for sale at inflated prices.

"An inevitable consequence of the defendants' behaviour was to reduce the number of face value tickets that were available for consumers to purchase.

"That made the fraudulent purchase of tickets a double win for the defendants because it manipulated the market against consumers by reducing the number of face value tickets available and driving up demand and therefore prices of tickets on the secondary ticketing websites.

"This was a multimillion-pound business the defendants were running from their home in London."

He said between June 2015 and December 2017, they spent more than £4 million buying tickets from primary ticket sites.

The prosecutor said AXS was the site they spent most money on, followed by Ticketmaster. He said more than £1 million was spent with both firms.

Mr Sandiford said that, in the same two-and-a-half year period, the pair sold £10.8 million of tickets on secondary sites.

He said Hunter, 51, and Smith, 56, both of Crossfield Road, north London, were partners "both personal and in business".

Both defendants deny fraudulent trading and possessing an article for fraud. The prosecution opening will continue on Thursday afternoon.