Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

UAE music fans warned over fake tickets after dozens turned away from gig

Flash Entertainment said scores of people arriving at Yanni's concert in Abu Dhabi had counterfeits

Yanni performing at du Forum, Abu Dhabi on February 14, 2019. Courtesy Flash Entertainment
Yanni performing at du Forum, Abu Dhabi on February 14, 2019. Courtesy Flash Entertainment

An event organiser has warned UAE concert goers to be wary of fake tickets being sold on internet resale sites.

Flash Entertainment said dozens of people were turned away from composer Yanni's gig in Abu Dhabi last month after being found to have counterfeit tickets.

The company also sounded the alarm over tickets being "resold" for tenor Andrea Bocelli’s concert in Abu Dhabi in April - before they were even released.

Flash said some members of the public who fell for the Yanni concert fraud even paid up to eight times more than standard cost.

They had purchased very expensive tickets that didn’t exist

John Lickrish, chief executive of Flash Entertainment

“They had purchased very expensive tickets that didn’t exist,” said John Lickrish, chief executive of Flash Entertainment, referring to a group trying to get into Yanni's concert in mid-February.

“We did our best to accommodate them and move people and try to find seats. We try to make sure our fans and customers get the best service possible.”

The problem of fabricated tickets appears to be getting worse, with more and more instances of scams being discovered, he said.

Online resale sites offer customers around the world the chance to purchase tickets to festivals, concerts and sporting events.

But while the bulk of advertised ticket sales are genuine, some have proved to be fake.

In some cases, fraudsters even use mock barcodes on emailed tickets to fool customers right up until the point they try to enter the venue.

In others, members of the public pay substantially over the odds for tickets that often offer fake backstage passes or access to VIP areas.

At the Yanni concert last month, Mr Lickrish said some victims of fraud had paid Dh8,000 for tickets when the cost price had initially been Dh1,000.

He said many had been turned away at the door when security established the barcodes were invalid.

Last week, he also noticed several reselling sites had already “released” tickets for Andrea Bocelli’s upcoming concert in Abu Dhabi in April.

That was days before the event’s official tickets – distributed by official vendors Ticketmaster.ae and Virgin - were due to go on sale.

“That just blew me away,” he said.

“I talked to ticketing and asked how many tickets had been sold and they said they hadn’t sold any yet.

“We keep telling people don’t buy tickets unless it’s through our registered ticket agents.

“And we are not doing that for any other reason than to prevent people from disappointment.

“Because even if it’s a secondary site it means they have already purchased from us.

“It affects me as a promoter when I have customers coming and they are unable to get in. We just want to get it out there to say it’s nothing we are doing or we can prevent. We have tried.”

Mr Lickrish said he had contacted companies such as Viagogo to make them aware of this issue, but they had not responded.

As The National reported in December, websites like Viagogo have come under fire for allowing sellers to demand booking fees of Dh450 for some events.

A spokeswoman for Viagogo said: “We list tickets as soon as they become available because we are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to tickets.”

Tickets are often available in the market before they officially go on sale, which explains how they end up on secondary reselling sites early, she said.

"Through the primary market, many tickets are first allocated to corporate sponsors, advertisers, VIP seat holders and other well-connected individuals before they are ever made available at the box office to the general public.”

Updated: March 11, 2019 01:03 PM

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