Canadian tout Julien Lavallee has been found to have obtained hundreds of tickets for big UK gigs within minutes of them going on sale after having set up an offshore business in the Isle of Man to bank profits from reselling them to music fans.
Discovered in documents leaked as part of the Paradise Papers, Lavallee’s business, I Want Tickets Inc, was avoiding paying UK taxes on ticket sales for Adele (pictured), Ed Sheeran and Metallica concerts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Paradise Papers investigation has been led by nearly 100 media companies worldwide and has uncovered 13.4 million files from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens’ company registries. The files reveal the offshore financial affairs of some of the world’s biggest multinational companies and richest individuals and set out the various ways in which tax can be avoided by using artificial structures.
While using offshore structures is legal, there is an investigation into whether Lavallee used computer software to harvest tickets in bulk illegally.
The Guardian newspaper also reported that it had seen evidence of the tout’s close alliance with StubHub, which listed him as a “top seller” despite warnings of criminal activity.
For Adele’s UK shows, Lavallee bought up 310 tickets in just 25 minutes, using 15 names and 12 addresses in three countries. Some of his purchases reportedly happened within seconds of each other, something one investigator looking into his activities said was “not physically possible” without using bots.
While bots are completely banned in the US, the process to outlaw them in the UK is still underway.
According to the Guardian, Reg Walker, director of the security firm Iridium Consultancy, said: “If the documents shown to us recently are accurate, there is evidence to suggest that Lavallee is committing offences to harvest tickets in bulk.
“The Iridium Consultancy warned StubHub that there was reason to suspect that Lavallee was acquiring tickets unlawfully and reselling them through their website.
“Over the last five years we have repeatedly called for a criminal investigation into the highly irregular relationship between ticket resale companies and touts.
“That criminal investigation is long overdue and in view of recent evidence needs to take place now in order to protect the public.”