Main | Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ticket Scammers Busted

Here's why all those hot concerts sell out instantaneously, even if you're hovering over your keyboard at the moment they go on sale. Four guys in California hacked the CAPTCHA programs of numerous tickets sellers and used over 100,000 fake email addresses to harvest all the best seats. They've been busted and charged with fraudulently obtaining more than a million tickets, which they then resold to scalpers and premium tickets sites.
Although the tickets they bought and resold were authentic, prosecutors say the group used the programs to bypass safeguards meant to restrict the number of tickets that each customer can buy. According to a 43-count indictment, the four men and their company, Wiseguy Tickets Inc., devised software that impersonated individual ticket buyers to bombard online ticket services such as Ticketmaster and Major League Baseball. "This drove more tickets into the hands of ticket brokers instead of individuals," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. The group focused on highly coveted premium tickets to big-ticket events such as concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews and Hannah Montana as well as sporting events such as the Major League Baseball playoffs, the 2009 Sugar Bowl and the 2007 BCS college football championship game, Fishman said. Many of the events were held at New Jersey's Giants Stadium, Izod Center and Prudential Center, but others were spread across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tampa, Fla., according to the indictment. Kenneth Lowson, 40, Kristofer Kirsch, 37, Faisal Nahdi, 36, all of Los Angeles, and Joel Stevenson, 37, of Anaheim, Calif., face charges that include conspiracy, wire fraud and unauthorized computer access. The wire fraud counts are the most serious and carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years per count.
The group even hacked the Hannah Montana fan club to create thousands of fictitious memberships in order to access special advance sales. Wiseguy Tickets say they've done nothing wrong: all the ticket sellers were paid, the artists were paid, and everybody got a real ticket for their (highly inflated) money.

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