Courtesy of The Guardian:
Husband and wife convicted of a £2m fraud in 2012 found to be listing thousands of pounds’ worth of gig tickets
A pair of convicted fraudsters are using Ticketmaster to sell thousands of pounds’ worth of seats at Ed Sheeran gigs, it has emerged, fuelling concerns among campaigners about the anonymity of touts who use secondary ticketing websites.
Michael Mayiger and Michelle Meiger, who are husband and wife, were convicted of a £2m fraud in 2012 after they admitted using false names to obtain Premier League club memberships.
They used the memberships to obtain and sell hundreds of tickets, some of which did not exist. Football ticket resale is also against the law.
Mayiger’s name recently appeared as the seller of tickets for Ed Sheeran at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow on Seatwave, a resale website owned by Ticketmaster.
More tickets were listed on sister website GetMeIn! by Alpha Group Services, operating from an address in Borehamwood registered to Mayiger.
Between them, Mayiger and Alpha Group Services, which has since changed its address to a street in Hong Kong, list dozens of tickets at several times their face value, with a combined value of at least £15,000.
Mayiger is one of Ticketmaster’s “trusted sellers”, meaning he has been vetted by the company, whose UK chair, Chris Edmonds, told MPs last year that the firm had a zero-tolerance policy on fraud.
“The seller has sold tickets to music fans on our secondary ticketing platforms for many years legitimately without issue,” said a spokesperson for Ticketmaster, adding that its sites were “safe and secure marketplaces”.
But the claim was immediately undermined as it emerged that nearly 200 fans who bought tickets via Seatwave to a Black Sabbath gig at the O2 arena were turned away after the venue detected fraudulent activity.
GetMeIn and Seatwave have recently begun publishing sellers’ details, after the Competition and Markets Authority launched an inquiry into secondary ticketing sites and the secrecy afforded to touts who use them.
And campaigners for reform of ticketing said that the disclosure of the sites’ relationship with a convicted fraudster raised concerns about the anonymity of touts using sites such as Viagogo and StubHub, which make no such disclosure.
“This is a perfect example of why transparency is necessary to ensure fans have all the information at their fingertips so they are not ripped off by touts with who are known ticket fraudsters,” said Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse.
“Transparency allows us to fully understand what is going on in this broken market and expose underhand activity or criminality that is not putting fans first, we need this across all platforms because at the moment those touts are still invisible and able to trade anonymously on these other sites.”
FanFair Alliance, which campaigns for reform of ticketing, said: “So-called secondary ticketing services like Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo present themselves as safe and secure platforms […] but it has become increasingly clear they exist predominantly as a vehicle for professionalised ticket touts or ‘brokers’ profiteering from a lack of transparency.
“By law, all of these services must disclose clear information about any professional traders working across their platforms.“Astonishingly, and presumably under pressure from the Competition & Markets Authority, the scant detail provided by GetMeIn! is about as good as it gets.”
“StubHub, we believe, have recently removed all detail relating to their brokers and, to the best of our knowledge, Viagogo never provided it in the first place. To stop this industrial-scale rip-off we urgently need government to act – to enforce transparency on this dysfunctional market and to give it a major reboot.”
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