New York reaches six settlements over illegal ticket sales

Reuters News
Posted: May 11, 2017 11:43 AM

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Six ticket brokers reached settlements with New York's attorney general to resolve charges they illegally bought and resold hundreds of thousands of tickets for concerts and other popular events, including on sites such as StubHub and Vivid Seats.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday said that since 2011, brokers would use illegal software known as ticket "bots" to buy large blocks of tickets through websites such as Ticketmaster before the public could buy them.

Authorities have said this could create ticket shortages that force people hoping to attend high-demand events to pay exorbitant markups on the secondary market.

Schneiderman said one broker, Prestige Entertainment of Greenwich, Connecticut, was able to buy 1,012 tickets in one minute to a 2014 Madison Square Garden concert by the rock band U2.

The six settlements total $4.19 million in fines and disgorged profit, including $3.35 million from Prestige and $480,000 from New York-based Concert Specials.

Fifteen companies have reached settlements over ticket sales totaling $7.1 million.

"Unscrupulous ticket resellers who break the rules and take advantage of ordinary consumers are one of the major reasons why ticketing remains a rigged system," Schneiderman said in a statement.

Prestige declined to comment. A lawyer for the company and Concert Specials was not immediately available for comment.

In November, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making it a Class A misdemeanor to use computer software such as bots to buy and resell tickets. A violation had previously carried only a civil fine. The law took effect in February.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)