Pair who made millions re-selling tickets for Ed Sheeran concerts are jailed
- Credit: Archant
Two internet touts who made millions of pounds re-selling tickets for high-profile events such as Ed Sheeran concerts have been jailed in a “landmark” case.
Peter Hunter, 51, and 66-year-old David Smith - who traded as Ticket Wiz and BZZ - were found guilty of fraudulent trading following a trial which ended earlier this month.
The pair used multiple identities and computer bots to buy tickets, selling them on secondary ticketing websites, prosecutors told Leeds Crown Court.
Yesterday, a judge was told by prosecutors that, between 2010 and 2015, BZZ sold tickets with a face value of more than £17 million for more than £26 million - a gain of £9.3 million.
Stuart Camp, who manages Suffolk superstar Ed, gave evidence in the pair's long-running trial, telling jurors they had decided to take a stand against touts after spotting £75 seats for one of Ed's charity gigs on sale for £7,000.
Hunter and Smith bought more than 750 tickets for Ed Sheeran concerts alone in 2017 by circumventing automated systems to block multiple purchases.
Hunter was jailed for four years and his husband Smith was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday.
MORE: Suffolk's Ed Sheeran backs a boycott of online ticket tout sitesAfter they were convicted, a National Trading Standards (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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The investigation, by the NTS eCrime Team, was initiated following research from the NTS intelligence team, which is hosted by Suffolk County Council's trading standards team.
A spokesman said: "The team researched the problem of secondary ticket sales, and produced individual profiles on the two defendants. They collected intelligence when raids were undertaken and worked closely with the eCrime Team and the Competition and Marketing Authority.
"It was a particularly detailed case, made all the more interesting by being based in Suffolk, with the Ed Sheeran link. We were aware of stories in the local media, concerning people wanting to see Ed's concerts and encountered problems when buying 'resale' tickets through third party sellers, such as those in this case.
"We're pleased with this prosecution and sentencing, and hope it deters people who might consider this kind of fraudulent trading in the future."
MORE: Why ticket rules were so strict at Ed Sheeran's Ipswich gigsThe court heard how the pair sold the tickets on secondary ticketing sites, including the "big four" - Viagogo, GetMein, StubHub and Seatwave - at inflated prices.
When their north London home was raided, investigators found 112 different payment cards in 37 different names.
NTS said Hunter and Smith deployed at least 97 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 email addresses to evade platform restrictions.
The charges they faced 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.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said: "This was a case of sustained dishonesty for a number of years."
But he told Hunter: "You are not somebody who deliberately went out of their way rip off the consumer. But I'm afraid this is a serious matter. A lot of people in this case paid a lot more than they could have paid."