Getting conned easy on booming entertainment tickets aftermarket

Ghost performing at the Metallica concert at the Raadi Airfield in Tartu. July 18, 2019.
Ghost performing at the Metallica concert at the Raadi Airfield in Tartu. July 18, 2019. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Thousands of people are selling entertainment tickets in Facebook groups for both more and less than what was paid originally. Buyers often fall pray to con artists as there is no control over the second-hand tickets market or a single platform.

Second-hand sales of festival and concert tickets is becoming increasingly popular. This is evidenced in Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members made specifically for trading event tickets.

"There have been so many of them over the past three or four years. A lot of tickets appear on the aftermarket now," said Kaarel Sein, organizer of the Breach Grind Festival in Pärnu.

The event organizer said there are cases every year where people try to enter the festival grounds with the second-hand ticket only to discover it's a fake.

"There are all manner of opportunists out there. Plenty of people can tell a good story, and there are inevitably quite a few forged tickets out there."

A record-breaking 25,000 people visited the Viljandi Folk Music Festival this year. Anu Rannu, in charge of ticket sales, said that the share of aftermarket tickets has been falling for the Viljandi festival.

"Perhaps people who have decided to attend the festival do make the decision more consciously now. But if something happens, previously bought tickets are still given up."

Several ticket-related incidents in Viljandi also came to the attention of the police. Festival tickets that were sold on the cheap in a Tartu Facebook group never reached buyers after they had transferred the money.

"It is always possible to ask questions like where was the original ticket bought and when, as well as what was paid. Those are the control questions to ask if the person has previously looked up the prices of tickets," Rannu said.

Kaarel Sein said that three-way aftermarket solutions are being developed where there is a buyer, a seller and a mediator to validate the authenticity of the ticket. While Sein is personally in favor of introducing personalized tickets, this complicates creating an online environment users would find convenient.

"It would be a real bother for ticker sellers, proseccing all of these requests and changing the names. But there could be an online environment where the person buying the ticket could make the change themselves," Sein suggested.

Anu Rannu does not see personalized tickets making their way to the Viljandi Folk Music Festival.

"Knowing the audience of the festival, I would suggest it would be a little too invasive in their eyes still. It would also create a lot of administrative burden," she said.

Kevin Jurkatam, administration of the Facebook group "Ürituste Piletite Ost/Müük," which has around 30,000 members, said he is forced to remove fraudsters from the group every day.

"Such problematic users usually have accounts that are just a few days old, have a random username, lack a profile picture etc. It would probably be better not to buy tickets offered through such accounts," he remarked.

Ulla Lass, founder of another similarly named Facebook group "Ürituste piletid Ost/Müük (Osta/müü/vaheta)," said she created the group to source tickers for herself and that a supervised aftermarket platform would be welcome. Jurkatam agrees but added that many still prefer fast and convenient first-hand exchange of tickets.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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