Social media is an essential tool for anyone involved in the live music business: It’s the primary way fans connect with your shows and that you connect with your fans. But social platforms’ ubiquity comes with a dark side: Scammers have flocked to social media, particularly Facebook Events, hoping to make a quick buck off dedicated fans who missed out on show tickets.
It’s vital everyone in the industry learns the telltale signs of a fraudster selling tickets they don’t actually have. Here are a few to look out for, with examples all lifted from Facebook events for sold-out shows in San Francisco.
Spot fraud: Stilted language in posts and comments
The tell-tale giveaway of a ticket scammer is that they often use language that simply feels off. Take a look at these two examples:
They’re written in imperfect English — which doesn’t necessarily mean someone is out to scam you. But they feature certain words or phrases that seem unusual — phrases your typical showgoer probably wouldn’t use, even if English isn’t their first language:
“Who is interested in buying ticket … at cheaper rate,” or “three tickets for sale at good cheap price.”
There’s the same phrase: “… in cheaper rate.” Look out for patterns of unusual, stilted language like these. They’re an excellent tip-off that you have scammers on your hands.
Furthermore, two of these three examples provide a phone number in the post and ask the buyer to text them upfront. Again, this doesn’t necessarily imply fraud by itself. But scammers are usually pushy, and often seek to transact via DM or text as soon as possible. In context, this is another red flag.
The devil’s in the (profile) details
Once you’ve identified a potential scammer, check out their profile to confirm your hunch. Consider the following:
There’s that strange language again: “… at affordable price.” Scrolling over their profile name reveals more: No biographical details. Their profile doesn’t include the city they live in, where they’re from, a workplace, anything. It’s effectively a blank profile with a nearly identical profile and cover photo. Scam!
Keep an eye out for other strange details that don’t add up. Here are the profile details of someone else offering tickets for sale — keep in mind this show is in San Francisco:
According to their profile, they live in Wisconsin and are from Wisconsin. Why would they have multiple spare tickets to a sold-out show in San Francisco? Unusual, isn’t it?
Neither off-kilter English nor curious-looking profile data is necessarily enough to mark a fraudster. But if the details don’t add up — and something just doesn’t feel right — learn to trust your gut.
Prevent fraudsters from reaching fans
If you work at a venue or throw shows, stay vigilant: Monitor social media (especially your Facebook events) closely, especially if a show is in-demand and likely to sell out.
Delete fraudulent posts as they crop up, before fans see them. In particular, keep close watch just before and day of show: Expect scams to peak when fans are at their hungriest.
Then, go one step further to ensure fans don’t get ripped off. Partner with a ticketing platform that offers verified resale services. For instance, Eventbrite partners with Lyte, a secondary ticketing partner that ensures painless, safe ticket transfer between fans who can’t make it to a show and fans who missed onsale the first time around. Once fans know they have a trusted place to buy and sell tickets, they’ll have no reason to take risks on shady-looking transactions.
Ticketing fraud is just one of the challenges shaping the live music industry right now. To learn more, read 2019 Music Trends: The Top Predictions From Industry Pros.