The start of 2014 means that some of the most exciting sporting events around the world are nearing, including Super Bowl XLVIII, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and The FIFA World Cup. While these three events feature very different sports, they have one thing in common: ticket prices to attend any of these events come at a steep price and high demand. Whenever there is an in-demand, popular event like the above, scammers are sure to take advantage of spectators looking for a bargain.
For acquiring banks, that means higher chargebacks and potential financial loss.
Ticket resellers, selling unauthorized tickets or counterfeit tickets, will go to great lengths to fool consumers, but unauthorized ticket resellers are putting payments industry members at risk for chargebacks and financial loss. Selling unauthorized and/or counterfeit tickets, not only puts acquirers at risk, but consumers run the risk of never receiving the tickets, being turned away at the event, and even having their cardholder information stolen for illegal activities. Not to mention, resellers will often inflate ticket prices, selling them at sometimes more than double their face value or original purchase price. Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster North America, estimates that for a size event like the Super Bowl there could be anywhere from hundreds, if not thousands of counterfeit tickets circulating in the industry. To put the magnitude of these events into perspective, this year’s Super Bowl venue, MetLife Stadium, can hold up to 82,566 spectators and the Sochi Olympics and FIFA World Cup have 1,100,000 million tickets each.
The prevalence of illegal ticket reselling continues to rise. According to Vice President of Legal Affairs of FOXSports.com, “The number of counterfeit and stolen tickets increases every year, with a couple of exceptions”. Practically any merchant with a functioning shopping cart can set up a website and start selling tickets (whether real or fake), quickly generating revenue and taking card holder information which could potentially be sold to third-parties for fraudulent use. Shortly after the 2012 London Olympics, one man was arrested and charged for setting up two websites offering the sale of an unlimited number of tickets for all the Olympic events. Over 400 people from around the world attempted to buy tickets from the site, and upon his arrest, the total amount taken from the fake ticket sales totaled over £400,000. Not only did acquirers face repercussions, but unassuming consumers, many of them athletes’ family, were turned away at the doors of Olympic events”.
To help you avoid falling victim to illegal ticket resellers, G2 Web Services has put together a list of best practices for acquirers and payment service providers, as well as consumers:
- Analyze your merchant portfolio to determine if any of your merchants are selling Olympics, Super Bowl or World Cup tickets (G2 clients can request this service).
- Closely review each ticket reseller’s website, being sure to walk through the sales process, read the terms and conditions, and understand the product offerings to make sure everything appears to be legitimate.
- Put ticket reseller merchants under enhanced monitoring to identify daily changes in products sold, pricing, customer support information and terms and conditions. G2 offers an enhanced monitoring service that will alert you daily of changes to a merchants website and business policies within a website.
For acquirers and consumers:
- One easy way to detect counterfeit or unauthorized ticket sales is by simply knowing when official tickets for these events go on sale. Several scams uncovered during the London Olympics featured sites selling “tickets” well before event tickets actually went on sale. Knowing this information is a simple way of weeding out the illegitimate ticket resellers.
- Recognize tickets that are too good to be true. Prices for these events are regulated, so tickets either way below market value or way above should be an immediate red flag.
- For the winter Olympics, the official Social Olympics website has a website checker that identifies if the entered URL is a valid ticket reseller.