The Ticket Reserve, Inc. (TTR), the parent company of ticket options seller FirstDIBZ, has reached a settlement with 752 members of a class action lawsuit over the massive fraud over Super Bowl tickets that felled the company more than two years ago.
TTR has agreed to pay a total of $529,920.74 under the terms of the settlement reached this week, which will reimburse the class members for a percentage of their online accounts where their money had been frozen since 2009 by the company. Included in that settlement figure are legal fees and other minor costs, so the pool of money that will be divided among the class members is just under $434,000.
According to Pennsylvania attorney Andrew Sciolla, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, the class members will receive between 50 percent and 62 percent of their money, which is expected to be mailed out in early to mid-December. The exact percentage amount will be determined by a formula based on the number of class members who return claim forms.
Sciolla is preparing to begin contacting the class members about the settlement, and once that begins those members are required to fill out the claim form to receive the payment. The class is made up of FirstDIBZ customers who had requested withdrawals from their accounts that TTR could not provide due to the fraud.
“[The settlement is] not all that we had hoped to get, but customers have been waiting a long time for their money,” Sciolla told TicketNews. “The settlement is a percentage of their [online] wallet funds, because the company informed us that it could not afford to meet all the obligations and they would have filed for bankruptcy and no one would have received anything.”
Sciolla said that several class members he has spoken to are generally pleased by the settlement. “Many are happy to get as much money as they can, because a lot of them had written it off as a bad investment. They understand that getting something is better than getting nothing.
“The ones who might not be happy, who wanted all of their money back and damages, I hope that their disappointment will lessen over time.”
The class action lawsuit was filed in the spring of 2009 after hundreds of customers bought what turned out to be fraudulent “dibz” that would have allowed them to buy Super Bowl and NFL playoff tickets at face value. The tickets never existed and the fraud built on itself with buyers then reselling the dibz they had purchased. FirstDIBZ eventually had to shut down because it could not keep up with the demand caused by the sale and resale of the dibz; currently, TTR does not operate FirstDIBZ, but it licenses its platform to sporting events that want to operate ticket futures sites.
While others have launched similar options sites, at least one other major one was also shut down. The site yoonew, while not a victim of a similar type of fraud, was forced to close in 2010 because it, too, could not meet its financial obligations.
Under the terms of the FirstDIBZ settlement, class members will have the option of receiving the money, withdrawing from the class or rejecting the settlement, but regardless of which option they to take, class members must return the claim form they will be issued in the coming weeks, according to Sciolla.