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FTC issues first fines using a law against ticket scalping bots

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: A person walks by Broadway posters near Times Square as theaters remain closed following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on January 15, 2021 in New York City. The pandemic has caused long-term repercussions throughout the tourism and entertainment industries, including temporary and permanent closures of historic and iconic venues, costing the city and businesses billions in revenue. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)


Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Most live events simply aren’t an option due to the pandemic, but that isn’t stopping the FTC from cracking down on ticket scalper bots. The regulator has taken its first legal action using the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act meant to punish these scalping practices. The owners of Concert Specials, Just in Time Tickets and Cartisim face a total of $3.7 million in fines for using bots to automatically scoop up “thousands” of tickets and resell them to would-be guests.

In addition to the bots themselves, the companies allegedly broke the law by hiding their internet addresses and using bogus Ticketmaster accounts (plus credit cards) to dodge purchasing rules. The perpetrators made “millions of dollars” from the practice, the FTC said.

The fines originally amounted to a much steeper $31 million, but the Commission cut them back due to an inability to pay.

You might not see more actions like this for a while when concert halls and stadiums are generally closed to the public. However, it might serve as a deterrent for some scalpers whenever it’s safe for public events to resume. There’s not much point to ticket bots if scalpers stand a real chance of losing their profits, after all.

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