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‘Important milestone’ as UK touts face 6.5 years in prison

The two ticket resellers that were found guilty earlier this month of fraud have been sentenced to a total of six and a half years in prison.

Peter Hunter and David Smith, who traded as Ticket Wiz and BZZ, were found guilty of fraudulent trading in relation to the resale of £11m worth of tickets for the likes of Ed Sheeran, big sporting events, and West End shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Leeds Crown Court.

Hunter has been sentenced to four years in prison, while Smith will spend 30 months behind bars. The judge ruled that Hunter and Smith ran their fraudulent operation from May 2010 to December 2017, making a net profit of £3.5m in just the latter two years that they were in business.

Lawyers acting for National Trading Standards argued in November that the defendants tried to “milk profit” from genuine fans by using scalper bots, as well as a specialist browser called Insomniac, that allowed them to masquerade as multiple consumers.

The company’s tactics circumvented primary platforms’ terms and conditions and their automated systems to block multiple purchases, which saw them purchase more than 750 Ed Sheeran tickets in 2017.

The touts spent more than £4m on primary ticket sites between June 2015 and December 2017, and sold them on resale sites such as GetMeIn and Seatwave, which have since been shut down, as well as StubHub and Viagogo for £10.8m.

The chair of National Trading Standards, Toby Harris, said: “This is an important milestone in the fight to tackle online ticket touts who fraudulently buy and resell tickets to thousands of victims to line their own pockets.

“Today’s sentences send a strong message to similar online ticket touts: these are criminal offences that can lead to prison sentences. I hope this leads to a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future.”