Saturday, June 11, 2005

FBI Will Follow U2 Cyberscalpers: Feds Track Source of Bogus Tix to Boston Shows

By Boston Herald staff
Saturday, June 11, 2005

The FBI is hot on the trail of the cyberscalpers who made grown fans cry at last month's U2 concert at the FleetCenter.

FBI Special Agent Gail Marcinkiewicz, spokeswoman for the Boston office, confirmed the bureau is looking into the scam but said any comment on the case would be premature.

A few days after the Herald reported hundreds of U2 fans had shown up with counterfeit tickets purchased online, the FBI showed up at the FleetCenter, said FleetCenter spokesman Jim Delaney.

Ticketmaster's ticketFast technology allows online buyers to print out tickets on their home printer. The tickets come with a unique barcode that is scanned at the gate. The majority of the bogus paper tickets held by more than 300 U2 fans had been purchased online through other channels.

"Once we knew we were dealing with online fraud, the FBI's Cyber Crime unit launched a full-fledged investigation,'' Delaney said.

State Attorney General Tom Reilly's office weighed in too, Delaney said, indicating it would work with the FBI.

While counterfeit tickets are hardly a new phenomenon, it is rare that a FleetCenter event turns away that many people, including some who had paid as much as $2,000 for a pair of tickets, Delaney said.

"People obviously were looking to get tickets any which way they could,'' he said.

Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, the live entertainment trade magazine, said cyberscalpers follow the money, latching on to blockbuster tours such as U2, and track them from city to city.

"There isn't a lot of profit in a $20 ticket, but when you're duplicating paper that can sell for hundreds of dollars, it's a pretty good racket until you land in jail,'' he said. ``The Boston incident just underscores the danger of buying tickets from unauthorized sources.''

Ticketmaster spokeswoman Bonnie Poindexter agreed.

"We can warn people until we're blue in the face,'' she said, "but they only listen when it hits their pocketbook.''


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