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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) — Ticketmaster is facing accusations of running a ticket scalping scheme after an investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Toronto Star. The box office giant allegedly helped scalpers buy tickets and resell them with a secret program.
Wearing hidden cameras, journalists from the Star and CBC posed as scalpers at a major live entertainment conference in Las Vegas in July. That’s where they found Ticketmaster representatives appearing to pitch a company-owned resale platform used by ticket scalpers.
“I’ve brought in people that are extremely small that have just had, just a few sets of tickets and just had the gumption to try and they’ve become pretty good partners for me. Doing half a million, or whatever,” the Ticketmaster representative said in the undercover video.
“They have a secret scalper program that they don’t talk about in any corporate reports,” said CBC investigative reporter Dave Seglins, who went undercover posing as a ticket broker from Toronto.
“What we discovered is they are selling something called TradeDesk, which is an online system. It’s purposely designed for professional scalpers. It helps manage large inventories.”
Here’s how it works: scalpers set up fake accounts to buy tickets in bulk on Ticketmaster.com, since the website limits how many tickets one person can buy. The scalpers then sell those tickets at inflated prices on TradeDesk.
“I want to know the straight goods on whether Ticketmaster is going to be policing us using our multiple accounts,” an undercover reporter asked.
“No, I have a gentleman who’s got over 200 Ticketmaster.com accounts,” the Ticketmaster representative said in the video.
Ticketmaster can then make money off fees from the initial ticket sale and the resold scalped ticket. For example, CBC analyzed ticket sales for a Bruno Mars concert and calculated that Ticketmaster could make up to $658,000 in fees, with half of that coming from scalped tickets.
“I’m hoping from an investigation like this, we’re really bringing transparency, so that people could look at this and ask whether this is right, moral, ethical, legal,” said Seglins.
In a statement to the Star and CBC, Ticketmaster says, in part, that it offers “a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy, and sell tickets,” and that it operates that “marketplace more transparently and securely than any other.”
In a statement to CBS News, Ticketmaster said, “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.” It also said it has begun an “internal review of [its] professional reseller accounts and employee practices.”