Fake News Protects Against Ticket Scams

How a Fake News Protected Consumers From Ticket Scams

If there’s one thing good about fake news, it is probably about doing something wrong for the right reasons. I happened to be hanging out with an Irish friend discussing how someone could screw us up by selling counterfeit tickets on our blockchain ticketing platform. He started by telling us that once upon a time in Ireland, there was a huge event that was about to happen in Dublin. The government issued a warning to all citizens that buying tickets from unauthorized ticket sellers such as ticket touts (scalpers) is punishable by law. This was their last so-called best resort to counter ticket scamming activity that seemed to be growing tougher to eradicate.

Guess what? The warning worked! People actually were afraid of getting fined and went to legit ticket agents to get their guaranteed genuine tickets. The twist here is that the entire report was a piece of man-made fake news perpetrated by a ticketing company. Not bad for a publicity stunt. It’s obvious that this bogus news was meant to drive more sales for the company but if you look at the bright side of things, it did help to protect consumers from ticketing fraud.

Ticket scam is an everyday nightmare that happens across the globe. Perhaps thousands of people are scammed each day from buying fraudulent tickets and this certainly would leave a bad taste in each victim’s mouth for years to come. I remember how I was scammed by a taxi driver in China back in 2013. This sort of experience will stick in your brain forever. Although it’s a good lesson to learn to be much more careful next time, it’s a lesson not worth learning for anyone. Mankind needs to progress itself as a civilization that embodies trust and respect.

Coming back to this topic, our goal is to make counterfeit tickets a history so that one day we could tell this as a nostalgic story to our grandchildren or hopefully great-grandchildren (since most of us will be living longer due to mankind progress in medical technology). Blockchain is only scratching the surface on what it can do, just like during the birth of the Internet. More new solid use cases will emerge and we aim to make blockchain as part of ticketing like bread and peanut butter.

Ticket scam victim

3 Common Ticketing Scams That Can Be Blocked By Blockchain

Let’s imagine this scenario. You bought a few tickets from StubHub, Viagogo or maybe Craiglist. And after weeks of sleepless anticipation, the day has finally come and you go to the event and realized at the gate that your ticket is a fake. Oh my God! You’ve been scammed. To add salt into the wound, you’re going to miss the event. But wait, you could still get a replacement ticket from StubHub’s office at the venue but sadly there aren’t any available. Gee, talking about bad luck. How could this happen to a good person like you? This article aims to debunk the fraudulent tactics employed by ticket scammers and investigate how blockchain tickets could prevent them.


Ticket Scam #1: Design a Counterfeit Ticket – The Photoshop Way

The cheapest way to commit ticket scam is to make our own fraudulent ticket because you don’t have to buy a real ticket. There’s always a Photoshop installed somewhere in someone’s PC. So, we can download a ticket image online and start showing off our graphic designing magic trick. Walla! Here’s the new ticket below.

How to forge a fake ticket

Or, if we’re too lazy, we can just visit faketicketgenerator.com and design our own counterfeit in less than 1 minute. But I wonder who would fall for this trick.

To stop this sort of ticket fraud, we could issue a blockchain version of a ticket called ticket token and store it inside the blockchain itself. Each of this digital ticket token contains the event data (event info, seat allocation, etc) and for every actual ticket that is issued, there’s a digitized representation of it in the blockchain. This ticket token shall be saved inside a blockchain wallet (think of it like an online account) and the wallet information (shown as QR codes) is printed on the physical ticket which can be a paper ticket, PDF or in a smartphone app.

To verify if each ticket is authentic, someone just needs to scan one the QR codes on the ticket to connect to the blockchain to access the ticket token data.


Ticket Scam #2: Make Duplicate Copies – The Xerox Way

The problem with digital content is it is too easy to make copies. So, we could just buy one real ticket in a PDF format and make a thousand copies and sell it a thousand times. Whichever victim that walked into the event venue first gets the ticket and the other 999 will be shown the no-entry sign because the ticket they purchased has been used. This is probably the most common ticketing scam happening on this planet right now, thanks to the cheaper print-at-home alternative offered by primary ticketing websites.

Now with blockchain, we could verify the ownership of the ticket by establishing who owns the digital wallet containing the digital ticket token. Furthermore, we could check if the ticket has been used by accessing the ticket token data via a block explorer – typically a website that shows all transaction details happening inside a blockchain platform.


Ticket Scam #3: Change The Seat Location From Back Row to Front Row – The Freeloader Way

This is a relatively new trick that sophisticated ticket fraudsters are using to bait their less sophisticated ticket buyers.  This scam is usually orchestrated outside the event ground. They advertise their front row tickets with almost “too good to be true” price. The twist in this trickery plot is that the ticket would actually work at the gate. It could be scanned! The more educated ticket buyers might only pay the reseller after they are inside the gate, handing over the money through the fence. But once they reached their seats, they’d meet others seating there with both parties showing the same seat numbers. The latecomer has just been scammed with altered seat locations. It’s pretty easy to alter a ticket these days since most are in PDF format.

Again, blockchain comes to the rescue! Blockchain-powered tickets contain digital wallet information that allows anyone to scan and verify all the details about the particular ticket including the seat location via the ticket token. Best of all, the scammer cannot alter the wallet data as this would leave an unerasable trace on the ticket.

Blockchain is not a magic pill. But it could make a dramatic difference in event-goers lives every day.


If you’d like to view a demo on how blockchain can prevent ticketing fraud, please contact us.

Photo credit: George Huntoon