UK authorities are considering launching an investigation of ticket broker TicketIndex.net for allegedly scamming thousands of Take That fans out of millions of dollars’ worth of tickets that the company never delivered.
City of London Police, in concert with the country’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, are looking into complaints from fans about the company, which is run by David Spanton, who has had run-ins with authorities in the past under similar allegations.
Take That’s current Progress Live 2011 tour, which began May 27 and will play several dates in the UK and Europe through July, has been a smash, selling out multiple stadium dates around England. In fact, the tour proved to be so popular — it marks the first time the band is touring with singer Robbie Williams since 1995 — that when tickets initially went on sale in late October 2010 the heavy demand crashed several primary ticket Web sites, including See Tickets and Ticketmaster’s UK site.
Thousands of fans allegedly have not received their tickets from TicketIndex.net for some of the shows, and they have not received refunds either, leading to the police beginning to look into the matter.
TicketIndex.net and Spanton did not reply to a message seeking comment.
Graham Burns, chairman of the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA), a UK trade organization for the country’s ticket brokers, told TicketNews that he estimates the amount of the suspected fraud could be between $10 million and $40 million.
“We alerted the authorities about this eight months ago,” Burns said. “We banged on every door that this was a scam.”
According to Burns, Spanton has a long history questionable ticketing practices and is referred to as a “serial fraudster” by Stereoboard.com. Internet searches found stories with complaints about various Spanton ticket resale companies dating back to 1998.
BBC News reported this week that TicketIndex.net sent at least one disgruntled fan an email apologizing for not delivering tickets and said the reason was because its source for tickets did not come through.
“The story that they can’t deliver the tickets is a lie,” Burns said, adding that Take That has added so many additional shows on the tour that the company could obtain tickets to another show and offer fans the choice of a refund or tickets to the other show.
According to ticket search engine FanSnap, tickets for three of the band’s Wembley Stadium shows were available on resale sites as of today, June 3, starting at $122 per ticket.
Whether the police launch a full-scale investigation or not, the alleged scam could have implications on proposed legislation of the country’s ticket resale industry. MP Sharon Hodgson has proposed strict new laws governing ticket resale, which in part call for caps on how much can be charged for a resold ticket.
“Ticket [resale] generates millions of pounds a year in the UK – all of which comes out of the pockets of fans, none of which goes to supporting grassroots sport or the creative industries, and little of which will be taxed like normal income or business profits,” Hodgson wrote on her Web site. “In some cases, [resellers] can earn more than the artists!” The bill is still pending in Parliament and could be discussed in the fall.
“This situation could give added fuel to MP Hodgson’s bill,” said Burns, reiterating ASTA’s opposition to the proposed legislation.