Viagogo briefly discloses details of touts before deadline | Money

A millionaire super-tout and a ticket fraudster’s wife have been revealed as some of the people using the much-criticised ticket website Viagogo to make money from music and sports fans.

From midnight on Thursday the site must publish the names of touts who have identified themselves to the platform. Touts use a variety of means to obtain tickets before genuine fans to sell them on at a profit.

Viagogo will release full data about touts under the terms of a court order secured by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, demanding greater transparency for consumers.

But the website briefly disclosed details of some of its sellers this week, before the information disappeared again. They include North Financial Group, a company run by Andrew Newman, who was revealed as one of Britain’s biggest touts by the Observer in a 2016 investigation.

According to information released by Viagogo, Newman’s company sold two tickets to see Bastille at the O2 Academy Glasgow for £130.92 to Kelly Dowling, 29, who said she had no idea she had been buying from a professional tout and felt “completely cheated”.

She contacted the O2 Academy, which told her that she would be turned away at the door if she had bought from Viagogo, but has still been unable to secure a refund from the website.

“This tout has put tickets for resale which are invalid,” she said. “If this is his business he should take the loss – why should I?

“I have been back and forward with Viagogo since October and have always had the impression the tickets were from a genuine fan who couldn’t attend. To find out that this is not the case and in fact the tickets are being resold for profit at my expense is just wrong on so many levels.”

Details from Companies House reveal that Newman has changed the registered address of his firm to a five-bedroom house in West Lothian that was recently advertised by Coulters Property, inviting offers over £995,000.

Newman declined to comment.

Another Viagogo customer paid £2,120.48 for four tickets to see England v France at Twickenham in the Six Nations next year.

She did not wish to reveal her name but said she feared being turned away at the turnstile because the Rugby Football Union does not permit resale through Viagogo.

According to data revealed to the buyer by Viagogo, the seller was Margaret Canty-Shepherd, of London, whose husband, Terry, was imprisoned over a £5m fraud in which 10,000 people were sold fraudulent tickets.

His victims included the parents of the Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington. They missed one of her gold medal swims at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as a result.

Canty-Shepherd declined to comment.

The details of many more tickets listed by sellers, including professional touts, are expected to emerge on Friday if Viagogo complies with the CMA’s demands in full.

Claire Turnham, awarded an MBE for obtaining close to £1m of refunds from the ticket website through her Victim of Viagogo group, said the scant details already emerging about ticket sellers using Viagogo raised concerns.

“As the few seller identities released so far include a super-tout, we have to wonder what horrors will emerge when Viagogo publishes fuller details on Friday, assuming it complies.”

A spokesperson for Viagogo said: “We fully intend to comply with the agreement that we reached with the CMA and we are working tirelessly to ensure we meet the deadline.”

The publication of touts’ details is a requirement of a court order obtained by the CMA, forcing the company into a complete overhaul of its business. It will have to publish information such as the face value of tickets and the seat number, so that fans know exactly what they are buying.

The court order prevents Viagogo from giving misleading information about the scarcity of tickets left for a show, to prevent fans being pressured into making a purchase.

The Geneva-based firm will also have to warn consumers if the tickets are subject to a ban on resale that might lead to buyers being turned away. It must appoint a third-party reviewer to arbitrate on the hundreds of complaints and refund requests it has received from disgruntled customers.

Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the CMA, said: ”We will not hesitate to take further action if any of the sites fail to meet their obligations.”

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