TQ Tickets Limited ticket touts jailed

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Maria Chenery-Woods, who ran TQ Tickets Limited which bought and resold tickets at an industrial scale, has been sentenced to four years in prison. 

The operation used more than 100 identities to purchase tickets for high-profile acts such as Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga, before reselling them at inflated prices on secondary ticket sites. According to reports, TQ Tickets sold £6.5m (€7.6m/$8.3m) worth of concert tickets between 2015 and 2017.

However, this figure does not include unsold tickets found by the UK’s trading standards officers during the raid on the operation’s offices in Norfolk, which were said to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The raid was undertaken as part of an investigation by the National Trading Standards e-crime unit nicknamed ‘Operation Zebedee’.

Chenery-Woods acted “out of greed,” said Judge Simon Batiste.

Mark Woods, Lynda Chenery and Paul Douglas had also been convicted of fraudulent trading offences and were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court.

The defendants were also involved in speculative selling, where tickets are sold to consumers at inflated prices despite not existing. When the orders could not be fulfilled, the defendants tried to cover it up by providing fake postal details and trackers, sending empty or damaged envelopes to make it seem as if the tickets had been lost along the way.

Woods and Chenery were found guilty of fraudulent trading on March 12, while Chenery-Woods and Douglas had entered guilty pleas earlier in the process.

Aside from Chenery-Woods’ four-year sentence and ban from being a company director for 10 years, Woods was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was also disqualified from being a company director for four years and ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work. Additionally, Woods was made the subject of an electronic curfew between the hours of 20:00 and 06:00 for four months.

Chenery was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment, suspended for two years, and disqualified from acting as a company director for three years. She was also ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and complete 20 days of rehabilitation.

Douglas was sentenced to two years and five months’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for six years.

It is the second successful prosecution of ticket touts by National Trading Standards in the last four years.

In 2020, two touts that made around £11m reselling tickets for inflated prices were jailed after being found guilty of fraud.