If you regularly go to concerts this question should sound familiar, particularly before sold out shows. Raphael Guillet takes a look at the phenomenon of ticket touting.

Have you ever been so desperate to go to a concert you had to buy tickets from a tout at an extortionate price? Have you ever been rejected at the entrance of a concert because your ticket was counterfeit? It happened to me, both on the same night.

In 2012, the Fraud Intelligence Bureau reported that fraudulent ticket sales cost UK fans more than £2.7 million. Moreover, almost half of the fraudulent tickets were bought online. The secondary ticket market is evolving quickly.

Right now, if you want to buy tickets to a concert you will have to buy them through Ticketmaster most of the time and every time if it’s a big venue. If the show sold out too quickly for you to grab your precious tickets, you have few possibilities.

You can wait for a second date to be added and wake up early to queue up outside an outlet, or use your mate’s great internet connection. Or you can buy second hand tickets. There are few places you can go to buy some. One of them is Toutless.com. “The goal of Toutless is to have a community of like-minded event-goers who can buy and sell tickets without getting ripped off by touts,” says Gary Devitt, the founder of the website. The website is highly popular in Ireland with 56,500 individual users.

Devitt deplores the absence of regulation from the Irish government; “There is absolutely no effort from the government. If you look at our neighbours in the UK, they have laws and regulations regarding the second-hand sale of tickets, whereas nothing like this exists in Ireland. This is how the touts are able to get away with extortionate prices.”

In the United Kingdom, the Fraud Intelligence Bureau deals with these issues. In Ireland, The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation doesn’t deal with second hand ticket market.

This leads to a high number of unofficial ticket-reselling websites such as Premiertickets.ie or Needaticket.ie. These websites offer tickets at a higher price than face value. The price of the ticket is driven by supply and demand and some hard-to-get tickets can be sold for twice as much on these websites.

In other countries the law is much more severe with touts. In France, since 2002, it is forbidden to make money by reselling tickets and it is illegal to sell tickets at a higher price than face-value. It’s the country with the strongest regulations on the second-hand ticket market in the EU. However, these regulations cannot be entirely enforced, the French police don’t have the ability to control every exchange made by individuals.

The usual techniques for touts is to buy tickets from the crowd right before the events at a price lower than face value and then sell it back at higher price than face value.

In cases of online fraud, the technique is quite similar. The fraudsters place ads on fan forums, adverts website etc. Sometimes they even set up fake ticketing websites. Then they ask for the payment to be transferred to a bank account. Finally, the tickets don’t arrive and the amount cannot be refunded because of the payment method.

Another big player in ticket reselling is Ebay. It’s the website where you can find the biggest price difference with the original value. For example, two standing tickets for Hozier at the Olympia Theatre in February can be found at €289 on Ebay, the same tickets bought from Ticketmaster would be €40. Even if Ebay could be useful to sell unused tickets, it seems unfair to genuine fans that people buy tickets with the sole intention of selling them. This doesn’t only affect concerts but all kind of events. For example, it’s expected to see a huge amount of fake tickets or tickets sold at an insane price in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in 2015.

In Ireland the only organization dealing with second hand ticket market is the European Consumer Centre in Ireland which issues warning against fraudulent tickets every now and again before highly attractive events.

Ireland already tried to pass a law outlawing ticket touting in 2011 but the Enterprise Minister, Richard Bruton said that it would only transfer the market online.

Gary Devitt gave us advice to buy second hand tickets “Just be on your toes...you are always guaranteed to get tickets to a sold out show the week before the gig on Toutless. The only problem is that there are 100s of other people looking for the same thing so you need to be quick!”