By Jonathan Stempel
Three Great Neck ticket brokers have agreed to settle civil charges that they cheated consumers by illegally purchasing tens of thousands of tickets for concerts, theater, sports and other events, and reselling them at substantial markups.
Settlements totaling $35.3 million with Just In Time Tickets Inc, Concert Specials Inc, Cartisim Corp – all based in Great Neck, New York – and their owners were announced on Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
The settlements resolved the first enforcement actions under the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, a 2016 law banning the use of “bots” and other means to evade ticket purchase limits for events imposed by online sellers.
Authorities said the defendants had since 2017 purchased more than 155,000 tickets through Ticketmaster, a unit of Live Nation Entertainment Inc, and generated more than $26.1 million in revenue from resales, often at significant markups.
The brokers were accused of creating bogus accounts including under fictitious names, using hundreds of credit cards and deploying automated software to foil Ticketmaster’s efforts to block multiple accounts and non-human purchasers.
“Those who violate the BOTS Act cheat fans,” Seth DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement.
Under the settlements, the defendants will pay $3.7 million, and were fined a combined $31.6 million. The fines will not be collected if the defendants satisfy several conditions.
Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by John Stonestreet)