June 25, 2024

Following an account by BBC this week concerning Gwynedd enthusiasts being duped while purchasing tickets for Taylor Swift’s summer concert, efforts have begun to inform the public in North Wales about online safety.

There are also anxieties regarding the “supposed high interest” in several Euro 24 tickets, with the possibility of some individuals falling prey to fraudulent ticket sales.

Quick sell-outs can be a major letdown for concert devotees or football fans.

However, those who look for alternatives via social media, online marketplaces, and fan forums could unknowingly expose themselves to fraudsters.

This April, ahead of these events, measures, tips, and online tools have been launched to ensure people’s online safety when purchasing tickets.

Online security firms ‘Get Safe Online,’ North Wales Police, and North Wales’ Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) have teamed up to offer this assistance.

The move comes amid recent reports by the BBC of Sian Williams from Blaenau Ffestiniog who attempted to acquire tickets for her daughter Efa to see Swift’s notorious tour, only to lose £250 believing she was buying from a trusted source.

There were 59 cases of ticket fraud in North Wales in the past year, leading to around £17,500 in losses. In 2024, there were ten instances, resulting in losses of £3650.

The statistics reflect a concerning rise in reports of a 200% increase from February to March, with reports rising from 2 to 6.

In spite of these seemingly low figures, the actual tally might be much higher as such fraud often goes unreported, according to an OPCC representative.

Because of the vast coverage of the Taylor Swift incident by the BBC, many people are becoming more conscious and the issue is gaining significant attention.

PC Dewi Owen, member of the Cyber Crime Unit at North Wales Police, revealed: “Action Fraud data indicates that over 7,000 people fell for ticket scams in 2022, resulting in losses exceeding £6.7 million. The average loss per victim was in the hundreds.”

To aid in avoiding scams, the OPCC and North Wales Police have commissioned Get Safe Online to provide crucial information and advice.

PC Owen stated: “Many people are eagerly looking forward to attending summer events. However, cyber criminals see this as an opportunity to dupe keen festival goers and sports fanatics by offering bogus tickets.

“We encourage everyone across North Wales to be cautious of online tricksters selling counterfeit or inexistent tickets.” He added, “In light of the anticipated high demand of Taylor Swift tickets as concerts sell out across Europe, police across England and Wales have seen a surge in reports of victims targeted on online platforms by fraudsters offering their Taylor Swift tickets claiming they can no longer attend.”

PC Owen stressed: “Do not pay for tickets through unofficial sellers or platforms and pay with a credit card or payment services like PayPal wherever possible for an increased chance of money recovery if you fall victim to the scam.”

He also urged the public not to pay for tickets through bank transfers especially when dealing with unknown individuals. He further warned people to be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or social media posts promoting “incredibly good deals” on tickets, particularly high-interest or sold-out ones. “If it appears too good to be true, then it likely is,” he cautioned.

Check if a ticket seller is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). As members of STAR, companies commit to strict governing standards. STAR also provides an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help clients with lingering complaints. For more information, visit: www.star.org.uk/buy_safe

Your tickets could be lost if your email or other online account is hacked when purchasing tickets online.

PC Owen suggests safeguarding crucial online accounts using strong, lengthy, and unique passwords. “Combining three random words to make a strong, memorable password is a good idea,” he suggested. “We recommend everyone to activate two-step verification on their accounts for added security.”

For instructions, visit the Cyber Aware website Cyber Aware – NCSC.GOV.UK

Safety tips include:

Avoid purchasing tickets from anyone excluding official agents, promoters, sports club, venue’s box office, or reputable ticket exchange sites no matter how desperately you want to attend a gig, festival, or game.

Remember that tickets displayed on other sources such as auction sites, social media, and fan forums may be fake or non-existent, regardless of how authentic the seller appears to be.

Avoid clicking on social media, text, or email links or attachments offering tickets as they could link to fraudulent or malware-ridden sites.

Paying for tickets via bank transfer could result in a loss if it’s a scam. The accountability for losses lies with you.

Verify sellers’ privacy and returns policies.

Consider using a credit card to pay for additional protection compared to other payment methods.

Before completing the purchase, verify all the details.

Before buying online, ensure the page is genuine. Manually enter the address instead of clicking a link and secure (‘https’ and a locked padlock), and log out after transaction.

To verify whether a website is likely to be legitimate or fraudulent, visit www.getsafeonline.org/checkawebsit

Always keep receipts until after the event is over.

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online commented: “In a ticket scam, the seller reassures you that they’ll mail or email the tickets once you’ve transferred the money to their bank account. Alas, they vanish after receiving the payment and never send the tickets. The likelihood is, numerous others have fallen for the same scam.”

He added, “Avoid falling for such scams by following our top tips to ensure safe ticket purchases.”

For advice on staying safe online, visit: www.getsafeonline.org

By  Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter

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