We live in a world where GPs compete with TikTok’s broken-reed medical advice and influencers are the ultimate review test for the product you want to bag. It comes as no surprise that this blind faith reflects in the festival industry, where festies’ heart-pounding desperation to see their music heroes translates into the bitter sting of ticket scams.
When a lusted-after festival pops on the radar, scammers, grifters, and con artists will rub their hands with glee at the promising opportunity of gaslighting strangers for a few extra bucks. Whoever embarks on this crooked side hustle does so because the general public is easy prey when the mouse trap’s cheese is a top-drawer festival.
We aren’t that gullible – but scammers are getting better
At least this is what a Barclays study reveals. More than a quarter of Millennial hardcore festies have fallen victim to a ticket scam at least once in their life, losing an average of £179. Action Fraud, UK’s national reporting center on cybercrime, states that over £3 million went to ticket scammers’ pockets last year.
Thanks to the proliferation of the digital realm, ticket fraudsters can use a wide array of practices – from sketchy web pages mocking legitimate sources to selling nonexistent passes on Facebook groups – to lure festival enthusiasts in.
Nobody wants to step into the murky territory of secondary ticket marketplaces. But in the gut-wrenching scenario of a sold-out festival – or when the only remaining scarps are, like, twice your budget – that’s the only plan B you got in store.
In all honesty, stumbling upon an eye-popping ticket deal for a blue blood festival feels like Christmas morning.
But we all know what they say about the things that seem too good to be true, don’t we?
Most ticket scams sob stories start like this – you land on a festival pass at a bargain price, so you bag it faster than you can say Jack Robinson. You hand over the cash for the ticket, but you never receive it. Or maybe you get counterfeit passes, so you only realize you have been duped on the festival’s grounds.
While avoiding secondary marketplaces at all costs is the best defense, we reckon that sometimes they are unavoidable. If you choose to put your festival fate in the hands of resellers, here are a few red flags that should instantly set off your fraud-alert radar.
1. Research is your bestie
The people behind computer screens whose job is to lead people astray for the price of a car fill-up will go that extra mile to make their hustle look legitimate. Fraudsters are pros at creating web pages that look almost 1:1 to a genuine site, so always double-check the web address before pressing the add to cart button.
For the scammers who present themselves as an allegedly independent (and unheard of) website, check if it is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). If the vendor is part of it, then you are purchasing a ticket from an association that has signed up to strict governing regulations and standards.
Another check at the convenience of your fingertips is going through the organizer’s official ticket distribution list.
2. Hold your horses and look for the padlock
Before you get all hyped up and enter your credit card details, make sure the website page is secure. Nobody wants to see transactions of thousands coming from the other side of the globe in the aftermath of snapping up their coveted festival tickets.
If the page you landed on is 100% secure and ready for safe payments, it should have a padlock icon in the browser window frame.
Also look for the s in the “https” part of the URL – that little letter we always overlook stands for secure.
3. Getting down to the payment
There is nothing else that scammers love more than bank transfers. They have all the reasons to do it – the cash goes straight to their account and they are free to disappear without a trace afterward. By the time you come down to your senses and realize something is off, it is *sigh* too late to cross swords with the fraudster.
Paysafecards, wire transfers, and gift cards are scammers’ go-to weapons they use to jeopardize the safety of your wallet. Good thing is that paying by credit card adds a sheer layer of protection in terms of fraud, guarantees, and non-delivery.
4. It smells fishy because it is
Fake websites are not the only big boy players in the unregulated market resellers – emails, texts, and social media posts are part of the package. Take your average Facebook account selling a festival ticket, blaming a family reunion or a girls’ trip for not being able to use it as an example.
Ten friends, one profile photo, joined in 2021? That’s one hell of a suspicious profile that smells like ticket scams.
Even if the profile seems legit, take everything with a grain of salt. If Josh from London can’t go to the Wireless festival anymore, there is absolutely no reason for him to sell his ticket 50% off.
On the contrary, people sell their tickets for a few bucks more than the original price, especially if the event is around the corner.
At the end of the day, selling a ticket is an entrepreneurial move – and no entrepreneur is willing to trade down just for the sake of selling his product.
Also, never click on social media links, texts, and email attachments promising you tickets for a mega-festival that’s almost sold out – unless you want to get your data stolen or catch the kind of viruses that will instantly crash your computer.
There is no strategy that’s one-size-fits-all and foolproof at the same time. Frankly, no matter how many safety measurements you take, there is always that unsettling 1% chance of bagging a festival ticket that will get you to nowhere land.
But you can always rely on ethical online marketplaces allowing hardcore festies to buy and sell festival passes at no more than their original value, like Twickets, Ticketmaster Resale and TicketSpaw. Stay wild and scam-free this festival season, kiddos.