U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., a vocal advocate for improving the ticketing industry, praised federal authorities for the recent indictments of the principals from Wiseguy Tickets, and he reiterated his call for passage of his BOSS Act that would help police the ticketing landscape.
The four indicted – Kenneth Lowson, 40; Kristofer Kirsch, 37; Faisal Nahdi, 36; and Joel Stevenson, 37 – were charged with 43 counts of various cyber crimes for allegedly hacking into the Web sites of Ticketmaster, Tickets.com and others to illegally obtain tickets to dozens of high profile concerts, sporting events and theatrical shows. Among the acts Wiseguy Tickets targeted included concert tours by Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, Kenny Chesney, Barbra Streisand, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel.
“Federal prosecutors were able to shut down a massive illegal ticket scalping operation, and I’m glad that the authorities are focusing on this problem. These unscrupulous tactics used by brokers shut out regular fans from seeing their favorite artists at reason prices,” Pascrell said in a statement. “Fans knew that there was something fishy about tickets for events selling out, and then, minutes, later seats being made available for a sizable mark up. That is why is why my legislation requires all brokers to register with the [Federal Trade Commission] and prohibits them from purchasing tickets within the first 48 hours of the onsale, giving the real fans the first shot at tickets at their face value. We will only stop seeing ticket scalping scandals like this when the market for tickets is open, honest and accountable, which is why Congress must pass the BOSS ACT as soon as possible.”
Pascrell introduced the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing (BOSS ACT) Act last year, and according to his office, the bill (HR 2669) has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for review. The congressman hopes the proposal will be voted on this year. Among other things, the BOSS ACT calls for more transparency in the ticketing industry, and addresses concerns with both the primary and secondary markets.
The Wiseguy Tickets operation allegedly used “bot” software programs, which are able to circumvent Web site security features, to scoop up large quantities of tickets from multiple access points. Several states have outlawed their use, and the BOSS ACT seeks to do that on a national level.
“At a time when the Internet has brought convenience and fairness to the ticket marketplace, these defendants gamed the system with a sophisticated fraud operation that generated over $25 million in illicit profits.” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement Monday, March 1. “Today’s indictment represents a significant step forward in the fight against those who use fraud to disrupt E-Commerce and evade computer security.”
Wiseguy Tickets is located in Nevada, but the indictments were handed down in New Jersey, where many of the tickets were allegedly sold to unnamed ticket brokers.
Added Edward Kahrer, FBI Assistant Special Agent In Charge, and head of its corruption program in the Newark Division, “The allegations in this indictment represent a scheme orchestrated through technology to cheat the public and circumvent fair business practices in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately for the defendants, they are the FBI’s first example of what happens to criminals when we combine the talent and resources in our white collar and cybercrime programs. As technology and the world move forward, the FBI will endeavor to remain one step ahead.”
Federal authorities also allege that Wiseguy Tickets “used aliases, shell corporations, and fraudulent misrepresentations” to hide their illegal practices and “disguise their ticket-purchasing activities.”
“The public thought it had a fair shot at getting tickets to these events, but what the public didn’t know was that the defendants had cheated them out of that opportunity,” Fishman said.