Pair who made millions from reselling concert tickets are jailed in landmark case

Two internet touts who re-sold tickets worth millions of pounds to high profile events like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift concerts have today been jailed.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 8:47 pm
Updated Monday, 24th February 2020, 8:48 pm
Leeds Crown Court

Peter Hunter and David Smith - who traded as Ticket Wiz and BZZ - were found guilty of fraudulent trading following a landmark trial at Leeds Crown Court which ended earlier this month.

The married pair used multiple identities and computer bots to buy £4 million worth of tickets over two-and-a-half years, selling them on secondary ticketing websites for £10.8 million.

They harvested tens of thousands of tickets to high profile music concerts and West End hits like Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

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Hunter, 51, was jailed for four years and Smith, 66, was sent to prison for 30 months when they were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Monday afternoon.

Ed Sheeran's manager Stuart Camp gave evidence in the pair's long-running trial, telling jurors they had decided to take a stand against touts after spotting £75 seats at a Sheeran charity gig on sale for £7,000.

National Trading Standards (NTS) said Hunter and Smith bought more than 750 tickets for Ed Sheeran concerts alone in 2017.

After London-based Hunter and Smith were convicted by a jury, an NTS spokesman said it was "a landmark case" which marks "the first successful prosecution against a company fraudulently reselling tickets on a large scale".

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NTS said Hunter and Smith deployed at least 97 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 email addresses to evade platform restrictions.

A jury found the pair guilty of three counts of fraudulent trading, which related to a range of practices including falsely representing their identities when buying tickets and failing to inform consumers buying tickets that they were at risk of being refused entry.

But the charges also specified that they were guilty of "fraudulently reducing the number of event tickets available for consumers to purchase at face value".

The pair were also found guilty of spec-selling - which is selling tickets they did not own.

And Hunter and Smith were also convicted of possessing an article for fraud, which related to the computer bots and Insomniac web browser they used to mask IP addresses.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, told the jury that Hunter and Smith were "dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed".

But Hunter and Smith argued that they did nothing wrong.

Hunter's defence team told the jury that they were a trusted and reliable source of tickets.

Ben Douglas-Jones QC, for Hunter, said that his client was no more greedy than other businessman providing a service.

Hunter, who is originally from Dublin, told the jury how he started his business when a friend without a credit card asked him to buy tickets for a Madonna concert for her and he realised he could re-sell extra purchases at a huge profit.

Following the trial, leading ticket fraud expert Reg Walker said the convictions should spark a wider criminal investigation into the re-selling of tickets and the major secondary websites.