13th March 2024

Ticket touts guilty in landmark NTS case

A family who used dishonest tactics to buy and sell concert tickets have been found guilty.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
TYPE
SUBJECT
REGION
SHARE ARTICLE
This is a landmark case for National Trading Standards and I hope this prosecution supports progress towards a step-change in the secondary ticketing market

Two members of a family who used dishonest tactics to buy and sell concert tickets at vastly inflated prices have been found guilty of fraudulent trading offences following a long-running investigation by National Trading Standards (NTS).

Mark Woods (60) and Lynda Chenery (51), both from Dickleburgh in Norfolk, were unanimously found guilty on 13 March at Leeds Crown Court.

Maria Chenery-Woods (54), who is married to Woods and is the sister of Lynda Chenery, and Lynda Chenery’s ex-husband Paul Douglas (56), had entered guilty pleas earlier in the process.

All four will be sentenced at a later date.

The defendants operated TQ Tickets Ltd, which they used to purchase and resell hundreds of tickets for concerts by entertainers including Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Gary Barlow, Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller and Little Mix.

NTS found that TQ Tickets used false identities to purchase multiple tickets from primary ticket sellers. They also used specialist software designed for use by ticket touts which enables multiple online identities and proxy IP addresses to purchase tickets at the same time.

Having purchased the tickets, the defendants then used false identities to resell them at vastly inflated prices – in some cases at 500% more than the face value.

The defendants also engaged in fraudulent trading by listing tickets for sale on secondary ticketing websites that they had not purchased and did not own. In a practice known as ‘spec selling’, the intention was to induce consumers to agree to buy non-existent tickets – with false information about the seats and row numbers – at an inflated price. Where ticket purchases could not be met, the defendants tried to make it appear that tickets had been sent by giving fake postal trackers and sending empty or torn envelopes.

NTS Chair, Lord Michael Bichard, said: “Millions of people spend their hard-earned money on tickets for music concerts and sporting events each year. Buying a ticket in good faith and then discovering it is part of a fraudulent scam can be deeply distressing and can have a considerable financial impact on consumers.

“This is a landmark case for National Trading Standards and I hope this prosecution supports progress towards a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future.”

The investigation was led by the NTS eCrime Team, which is hosted by North Yorkshire Council and City of York Council.

Councillor Greg White, North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for managing our environment, said: “This case has been long and difficult to bring, partly due to covid, and also because of its complexity, but the team have proved that National Trading Standards won’t give up until the job is done to ensure the public are protected.”

Councillor Jenny Kent, Executive Member at City of York Council, said: “These convictions show it is always worth reporting your concerns to Trading Standards, who are determined to ensure fans can enjoy live shows, with confidence in the tickets they buy. Touts who exploit consumers, and the systems put in place to protect their hard earned money, won’t escape our tenacious investigators. We are delighted to have contributed to the fight against secondary ticketing and hope it supports ongoing efforts to better regulate this market.”

The government has previously deemed proposals by the CMA to prevent ticket touting unnecessary, despite warnings that consumers are being ripped off by the practice. It is understood that Labour is considering including proposals to ban ticket touting in its general election manifesto.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *