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Tickets for some events can be high in demand, which means you might be inclined to source them from people and places you wouldn't usually go to. Criminals will look to exploit this and attempt to sell fake or non-existent tickets to unsuspecting victims.

Third-party ticket-selling websites are popular places for people to purchase tickets from others who have previously bought a ticket but wish to sell it. It is also the perfect spot for criminals to masquerade as legitimate sellers.

Scammers also use social media and even create fake websites to make themselves appear legitimate so it's important to do some research before sending money for something that might never arrive.

Protecting yourself

  • Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, the promoter, an official agent or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site.
  • Should you choose to buy tickets from an individual (for example on social media, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal that has a built-in refund mechanism.
  • Paying for your tickets by credit card will offer increased protection. Avoid making payments through bank transfer or money transfer services, as the payment may not be recoverable.

Spotting the signs

  • Check the contact details of the site you’re buying the tickets from. There should be a landline phone number and a full postal address. Avoid using the site if there is only a PO box address and mobile phone number, as it could be difficult to get in touch after you buy tickets. PO box addresses and mobile phone numbers are easy to change and difficult to trace.
  • Before entering any payment details on a website, make sure the web address starts with HTTPS and look for the padlock symbol indicating the connection is secure. Check the payment gateway (e.g WorldPay). Is it reputable? Have you seen it before? Is it commonly used?
  • Is the vendor a member of Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR)? If they are, you're buying from a company that has signed up to their strict governing standards and therefore can be trusted. 

How it works

You may find a website advertised via email or social media offering you the chance to buy tickets to a popular event.

Fraudsters create their own bogus ticket retail companies; websites are easy to make and look legitimate, you may purchase from a website that is taken offline once the scam has been completed. Some even use a name or website address very similar to a legitimate ticket sales website in order to fool you into thinking you're buying from a reputable seller.

This is a form of phishing; fraudsters take advantage of the huge demand for the most popular events. The tickets they’re advertising have either already sold out, or haven’t officially gone on sale yet, but their website claims to have tickets available. In some instances the event they’re promoting doesn’t even exist.

You pay for the tickets, but they aren’t delivered. In some cases you may be told that a customer representative will meet you at the venue on the day to give you your ticket, but nobody turns up. You may even get the tickets in the post or print off an e-ticket, but when you arrive at the event, the organisers tell you the tickets are fake.

When you try to call the company you bought the tickets from, the number doesn't exist, your calls aren’t answered or you’re told the company doesn’t provide refunds.

If you’re buying football tickets in most instances it’s illegal for anyone to re-sell them. Some football clubs have an authorised platform for ticket resales so it's best to do your research.

Downloadable documents

Ticket Fraud Guidance Poster


This page was last reviewed 29/04/2024.