Ticket touts found guilty over £6.5m scheme

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The final two members of a ticket tout ‘family’ have been found guilty of fraudulently and dishonestly buying and reselling tickets to concerts for the likes of Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga at inflated prices.

Mark Woods and Lynda Chenery were convicted by a jury at Leeds crown court for their involvement in TQ Tickets Ltd. Along with two others, who pleaded guilty earlier in the case, they made more than £6.5m ($8.3m/€7.6m) by buying vast amounts of tickets and reselling them on secondary sites including Viagogo.

The pair were found guilty of three counts of fraudulent trading, despite denying involvement last month.

TQ Tickets was run by Maria Chenery-Woods, the sister of Chenery and the wife of Woods, who pleaded guilty earlier in the case alongside accomplice Paul Douglas.

The four defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

An investigation by National Trading Standards found that the defendants used several dishonest and fraudulent tactics to purchase multiple tickets from primary sellers, circumventing automated systems to block multiple purchases.

They then used false identities to resell the tickets at inflated prices – in some cases for more than 500% of the face value.

“Millions of people spend their hard-earned money on tickets for music concerts and sporting events each year,” said National Trading Standards chair Lord Michael Bichard.

“Buying a ticket in good faith and then discovering it is part of a fraudulent scam can be deeply distressing and can have a considerable financial impact on consumers.

“This is a landmark case for National Trading Standards and I hope this prosecution supports progress towards a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future.”

Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp was among those to welcome the verdict.

He said: “Ed Sheeran’s 2018 summer stadium tour was when we really took a stand against online ticket touts. The low point for me had been one of his earlier Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, where tickets were listed on Viagogo for thousands of pounds, but with none of the money going to charity.”

Sheeran’s 2018 UK tour saw 6,300 tickets reissued and helped people get more than £600,000 in combined refunds from Viagogo.