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Court jails gay couple who made millions in ticket tout fraud

Court jails gay couple who made millions in ticket tout fraud

  • Former editor of Gay Times, David Smith, and his husband sold Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Harry Potter tickets at inflated prices.
Ed Sheeran performing.

A judge has jailed a gay married couple who made millions from reselling concert tickets at inflated prices.

David Smith, 66, the former editor of UK magazine Gay Times and a ground-breaking journalist in his time, received a two-and-a-half-year sentence.

Meanwhile his partner, Peter Hunter, 51, got a tougher sentence of four years in prison.

The pair bought £4 million worth of tickets between 2015 and December 2017. Then then sold them for £10.8 million, making around £7 million for their efforts.

And some of the mark-ups they charged fans are eye-watering. They were selling one £75 ticket for an Ed Sheeran charity show for £7,000. Sheeran and his manager helped convict the pair.

Sophisticated ticket fraud

The pair used sophisticated technology to beat protections designed to stop ticket touts.

A three-month long trial at Leeds Crown Court heard they bought around 1,000 tickets every 72 hours.

They used at least 97 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 email addresses to evade restrictions on the platforms they used. They also used multiple credit cards and mobile phone numbers.

Because of the technology they used, they didn’t have to continually refresh online sites to buy tickets. The computer software did all that for them, at great speed, while fans tried to snap up tickets as soon as they went on sale.

They targeted events including Ed Sheeran, Gary Barlow, Coldplay, The Killers and Taylor Swift gigs.

They also traded tickets for in-demand play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, the Last Night of the Proms and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. And the scam reached into TV shows including Eurovision, The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

However, the couple from north London insisted they were honest business people just providing a service. They even had positive reviews saying they were a trusted source of tickets.

But the jury didn’t accept that version. They found Hunter and Smith guilty of three counts of fraudulent trading and one count of possessing an article for use in fraud.

And now more similar cases may follow.

Hunter and Smith’s case is the first time a court has convicted bulk ticket resellers in the UK. But National Trading Standards believes the bulk-reselling industry may be worth around £700m based on 2017 figures.