Amateur Fake Facebook Gig Ticket Scam Ripping Off Hundreds Of Aussies
EXCLUSIVE: Foreign scammers are posing as kind grandparents on Facebook, ripping off Aussie concertgoers in a fake ticketing fraud which appears to be a coordinated -- if unsophisticated -- rort.
10 daily has been tracking a trend of foreign-based concert ticket scammers who appear to adopt fake names and photos to convince potential buyers of their authenticity. Hordes of scammers descending on sold-out concerts to offer fistfuls of tickets at low costs. It seems too good to be true -- and unfortunately, it is.
Even the most basic search through their Facebook profiles exposes their hapless, ham-fisted methods to hoodwink Australians.
Young men are posing as sweet old grandmothers; and people are hiding behind display names like 'Mattie' and 'Annie' when their true names are easily found to be more like Akinrinwoye or Abolajarasheed.
These are all real examples catalogued by 10 daily over a four-week period, found on the event pages for some of the biggest concerts to be held in Sydney, including events at the Hordern Pavilion, Enmore Theatre and Factory Theatre from acts including Foals, Boy & Bear and Thelma Plum.
Even the Reclink Community Cup charity Aussie Rules game, and concerts from independent bands at small local music venues, have been targeted by scammers on Facebook pages.
They seem to work off a script, asking buyers to send money through PayPal then send a screenshot of confirmation, pleading their legitimacy and promising their tickets will be emailed soon.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was aware of the activity and recognised it as a scam, which may have been operating for some time.
"People who purchase a ticket from a scalper may never receive their ticket, receive a counterfeit ticket or find there was never a ticket at all," an ACCC spokesperson said.
The organisation's Scamwatch service received nearly 200 reports of Facebook ticketing scams in the first seven months of 2019, with around $25,000 in losses reported -- around $130 per report.
Facebook accounted for around a quarter of all fake ticket sellers reported to Scamwatch between January 1 and July 31, with 810 reports and $152,000 total losses.
READ MORE: Ticket Scalping Crackdown With $483,000 Fine
How Do Facebook Scams Work?
The scammers find popular events where tickets are at a premium -- Facebook's in-built events page, where anyone anywhere in the world can filter the options to find popular concerts anywhere else in the world, makes this very easy. Many of the events targeted are those which have 'sold out' or 'selling fast' in their descriptions.
The scammers offer a number of tickets -- two, four, five, up to 10 in some cases -- often putting their sale down to the excuse that a family member has died. They routinely reply to every comment in the discussion, saying they have tickets for sale, at cheap prices.
A closer look at the profiles of some of these scammers also finds a few commonalities.
For one, their official listed locations on Facebook were far from Sydney; including Nigeria and Canada,.
Their profiles are sparsely populated, with only a few photos and the barest of personal details. Sometimes the profiles are only days old. At times, their profiles don't exactly seem to match the event they're selling tickets for -- an elderly couple with eight tickets to a heavy metal concert, for example.
Many of these people have also personalised their Facebook URL, which can expose what may be their real name.
Someone with the display name Brenda Collins, with their URL being facebook.com/Oseni.AbdulRasaqolaitan; Tenille Dezo, appearing with smiling photos at Disneyland with her boyfriend, with the URL Eniola.Awosho; Vernica Adah, with the URL Uchechukwu.Onigbo.
Reverse image searches do not turn up any results for the photos used by the fake profiles, suggesting they may have been lifted directly from other Facebook accounts.
When pressed for more information, the scammers ask buyers to send them money through PayPal, and promise to send confirmation straight away. The email address they use tends to bear a completely different name from the one on their Facebook profile and the one in their URL.
When asked to meet in person to exchange tickets for cash, the sellers cite a range of excuses including an injury, family illness or a business trip away from home.
READ MORE: The Top Three Scams Aussies Are Falling For
Some are even able to supply a screenshot of a ticket confirmation, in an attempt to prove that their tickets are legitimate.
The ACCC warns this is not a foolproof method to prove authenticity, saying that the same screenshot could be sent to multiple people, and thus, the same ticket sold multiple times.
"You should only buy tickets for festivals and events from an authorised seller," the ACCC warned.
"Scalpers may use official looking logos and trademarks to lure people into believing they are authorised ticket resellers. In some cases, the individuals selling tickets may be scammers trying to selling fake or non-existent tickets."
"Never give out your personal, credit card or online account information to anyone you don’t know and trust."
Do you know more, or have you been scammed like this? Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org