ticket scam

Desperate Taylor Swift fans defrauded by ticket scams

Ticket scams are very common and apparently hard to stop. When there are not nearly enough tickets for some concerts to accommodate all the fans that desperately want to be there, it makes for ideal hunting grounds for scammers.

With a ticket scam, you pay for a ticket and you either don’t receive anything or what you get doesn’t get you into the venue.

As reported by the BBC, Lloyds Bank estimates that fans have lost an estimated £1m ($1.25 m) in ticket scams ahead of the UK leg of Taylor Swift’s Eras tour. Roughly 90% of these scams were said to have started on Facebook.

Many of these operations work with compromised Facebook accounts and make both the buyer and the owner of the abused account feel bad. These account owners are complaining about the response, or lack thereof, they are getting from Meta (Facebook’s parent company) about their attempts to report the account takeovers.

Victims feel powerless as they see some of their friends and family fall for the ticket scam.

“After I reported it, there were still scams going on for at least two or three weeks afterwards.”

We saw the same last year when “Swifties” from the US filed reports about scammers taking advantage of fans, some of whom lost as much as $2,500 after paying for tickets that didn’t exist or never arrived. The Better Business Bureau reportedly received almost 200 complaints nationally related to the Swift tour, with complaints ranging from refund struggles to outright scams.

Now that the tour has European cities on the schedule the same is happening all over again.

And mind you, it’s not just concerts. Any event that is sold out through the regular, legitimate channels and works with transferable tickets is an opportunity for scammers. Recently we saw a scam working from sponsored search results for the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. People that clicked on the ad were redirected to a fake phishing site where they were asked to fill out their credit card details.

Consider that to be a reminder that it’s easy for scammers to set up a fake website that looks genuine. Some even use a name or website url that is similar to the legitimate website. If you’re unsure or it sounds too good to be true, leave the website immediately.

Equally important to keep in mind is the power of AI which has taken the creation of a photograph of—fake—tickets to a level that it’s child’s play.

How to avoid ticket scams

No matter how desperate you are to visit a particular event, please be careful. When it’s sold out and someone offers you tickets, there are a few precautions you should take.

  • Research the ticket seller. Anybody can set up a fake ticket website, and sponsored ads showing at the top of search engines can be rife with bogus sellers. You may also run into issues buying tickets from sites like eBay. Should you decide to use sites other than well-known entities like Ticketmaster, check for reviews of the seller.
  • Are the tickets transferable? For some events the tickets are non-transferable which makes it, at least, unwise to try and buy tickets from someone who has decided they “don’t need or want them” after all. You may end up with tickets that you can’t use.
  • Use a credit card if possible. You’ll almost certainly have more protection than if you pay using your debit card, or cash. We definitely recommend that you avoid using cash. If someone decides to rip you off, that money is gone forever.
  • A “secure” website isn’t all it seems. While sites that use HTTPS (the padlock) ensure your communication is secure, this does not guarantee the site is legitimate. Anyone can set up a HTTPs website, including scammers.
  • It’s ticket inspector time. One of the best ways to know for sure that your ticket is genuine is to actually look at it. Is the date and time correct? The location? Are the seat numbers what you were expecting to see? It may well be worth calling the event organizers or the event location and confirming that all is as it should be. Some events will give examples of what a genuine ticket should look like on the official website.
  • Use a blocklist. Software like Malwarebytes Browser Guard will block known phishing and scam sites.


Pieter Arntz

Malware Intelligence Researcher

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.