Scammers constantly flood Facebook event pages, pretending to sell nonexistent tickets to potential concertgoers, but after an investigation in the UK, Facebook is taking the first steps toward ending ticket fraud on its platform.
Earlier this year, Facebook agreed to donate £3m to a new Citizens Advice project dedicated to handling online fraud, and will launch a tool that reports scam ads in May. Additionally, the platform will cover legal costs for Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, whose name and image appeared in over 1,000 scam ads on Facebook without his knowledge.
These scammers can typically be found on various event pages, claiming that they have a certain number of tickets for that specific show, an investigation by UK’s The Times reveals. They’ll ask concertgoers to direct message them, and although they seem like they are going to send over the tickets, they simply keep the money and disappear.
According to IQ, the UK’s Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers said last year that ticket fraud had increased by 38 percent from 2015 to 2017 and British consumers are continuing to fall into the trap.
One man told the Times that he unknowingly paid a scammer £100. Andy Lopata said that he saw the woman, Sammie-Lou Teasley, selling tickets to a Slash concert in February, and had her send the tickets to his email address. After purchasing the tickets, the woman never contacted Lopata again.
“It wasn’t a transactional way of talking and was designed to allow me to take my guard down,” he said.
Following the Teasley incident, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to IQ that the company removed Teasley’s account and are “committed” to shutting down fraudulent behavior on its site.
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“We have removed the account brought to our attention by the Times,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “Fraudulent activity is not tolerated on Facebook, and we are taking action to stop it.”
However, the fraudulent behavior is still rampant. Earlier this month, a fan of Michelle Obama tried to get tickets to see the former First Lady when she visited St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, but was hoping to find cheap seats. The fan, Skye Taylor, told Minnesota CBS Local that she saw people selling tickets on the event’s Facebook page, and one woman was offering seats in her price range. After buying the seats, Taylor reached out to the woman to see why she hadn’t received an email about the tickets, and her calls and texts were blocked.
Just like Lopata, Taylor believed the woman was legitimate.
“Scammers, they’ll just post like a random picture and they won’t have much of a history on their (Facebook) page or anything like that,” she told CBS Local. “This person had like a full profile, lots of pictures, lots of posts. They looked like a regular person on Facebook. They didn’t look like a typical scammer.”