Undercover reporters accuse Ticketmaster of running a secret scalping program

Macy's Herald Square New York Jingle Ball Ticket Giveaway
Getty Images | Brad Barket

If you’ve ever purchased tickets for a concert, sporting event or show before, you may have noticed they are sometimes pretty hard to get, even just minutes after becoming available. How is it possible that tickets sell out that quickly? Sadly, it’s sometimes because sometimes scammers buy a large number of tickets, then resell them for more than their original price.

It has gotten so bad, in fact, that former One Direction band member Harry Styles even asked Ticketmaster to review ticket purchases for his concerts after his North American tour sold out in record time and then some tickets showed up on resale sites.

Now, however, it’s Ticketmaster that is under fire for allegedly running a secret scalping program.

concert tickets photo
Getty Images | Brad Barket

An investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Toronto Star alleges that when they went undercover as ticket scalpers at a live entertainment expo in Las Vegas, Ticketmaster offered to help them do business. Wearing hidden cameras, the journalists say they found Ticketmaster representatives appearing to promote a company-owned resale platform to ticket scalpers.

The undercover journalists reported that the web-based tool, called Trade Desk, lets scalpers “seamlessly sync their Ticketmaster accounts (where they buy their tickets) with their online resale operation, quickly posting each seat to ticket reselling websites including StubHub, Vivid Seats and ticketmaster.com,” they wrote in the Toronto Star. According to the investigation, this resale platform also gives Ticketmaster a second commission on every “verified resale” ticket sold on Ticketmaster.com — on top of the commision they get with the original purchase price of the ticket.

While Ticketmaster’s terms of use prohibit customers from buying “a number of tickets for an event that exceeds the stated limit for that event,” the undercover reporters say a sales executive at the Trade Desk told the reporters, “We don’t spend any time looking at your Ticketmaster.com account. I don’t care what you buy. It doesn’t matter to me. There’s total separation between Ticketmaster and our division. It’s church and state … We don’t monitor that at all.”

The investigation alleges that because Ticketmaster does not monitor the number of accounts someone can have, they open the door to scalpers setting up fake accounts so they can buy large numbers of tickets — well beyond the number of tickets allowed for a single account. They then sell the tickets through the Trade Desk at a higher price.


Though Ticketmaster declined to be interviewed by the CBC and Toronto Star before the investigation published, the company has now responded to the report’s allegations about their involvement in ticket scalping.

Ticketmaster told Rolling Stone, “It is categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers. Ticketmaster’s Seller Code of Conduct specifically prohibits resellers from purchasing tickets that exceed the posted ticket limit for an event. In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the purpose of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale.”

Ticketmaster also told CBS News that they will be conducting an “internal review of [its] professional reseller accounts and employee practices.”

If you’d like the read the entire investigation, just visit The Star’s website. The CBC posted the video version of the story on their YouTube channel:

Have you ever purchased resale tickets?

Entertainment, Money, Music

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About the Author
Kaitlin Gates
Kaitlin is a freelance multimedia journalist with a degree in journalism and psychology. Along with Simplemost, she also writes for Don't Waste Your Money, where she loves finding great deals to help people save money. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kaitlin's work.

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