Several principals with Wiseguy Tickets, a Nevada-based wholesale ticket broker, were recently indicted for alleged cyber crimes for using “bot” software programs to illegally obtain more than 1 million tickets for popular concerts and sporting events from Ticketmaster and other companies.
According to the 60-page federal court indictment released today, March 1, California residents Kenneth Lowson, 40; Kristofer Kirsch, 37; Faisal Nahdi, 36; and Joel Stevenson, 37, allegedly hacked into the Web sites of Ticketmaster, Live Nation (which now owns Ticketmaster) and Major League Baseball, among others, over a several-year period to obtain the tickets. Lowson is also known as “Money” and Kirsch also goes by the alias “Robert Woods,” according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Wiseguy Tickets, Inc. (“Wiseguys”), a Nevada corporation, used fraudulent misrepresentations and computer hacking to purchase tickets surreptitiously over the Internet to concerts, sporting events, and other forms of live entertainment (“Events”) throughout the United States. To achieve this goal, Wiseguys deployed a nationwide computer network that opened thousands of simultaneous Internet connections from across the United States; impersonated thousands of individual ticket buyers; and defeated online ticket vendors’ security mechanisms. When online ticket vendors tried to stop Wiseguys from engaging in this conduct, Wiseguys adapted its methods and continued. Through these fraudulent and unauthorized steps, among others, Wiseguys and its owners made more than $20 million in profits while purchasing more than 1 million tickets to Events nationwide,” the indictment states.
The four were indicted in New Jersey because the company allegedly resold illegally obtained tickets to some unnamed ticket brokers in the state, but according to the indictment the company had customers around the country. Wiseguys allegedly employed computer programmers, and utilized servers, in Bulgaria, among other locations, to carry out the alleged scheme.
Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, Kenny Chesney and Bon Jovi were among the acts Wiseguys allegedly obtained tickets for while using bots, according to published reports.
The charges include Obtaining Information from a Protected Computer; Accessing a Protected Computer with Intent to Defraud; Transmitting a Program That Causes Unauthorized Damage; and Wire Fraud.
“It was the object of the conspiracy to profit by defrauding Online Ticket Vendors and others through circumventing computer code and surreptitiously obtaining and then reselling Event tickets that Online Ticket Vendors would not otherwise sell to Wiseguys,” the indictment states.
Over the past couple of years, authorities in several states, in addition to the federal government, have been trying to crack down on the use of bots, which are computer programs that can worm their way past online security measures to scoop up large blocks of tickets. Several states have outlawed the use of bots, and Ticketmaster even allegedly tightened up its own security and blocked several brokers that the company suspected were using them.
A spokesperson for Live Nation Entertainment did not return a message seeking comment.