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People desperate to attend major pop concerts, music festivals and sporting events this summer face a greater risk of falling victim to criminals after online ticket fraud soared by 55 per cent, a local councillor warned today.

More than £5 million was lost to online ticket fraud in the UK in 2015 – up from £3.35 million in 2014 – with social media sites now accounting for nearly half of all reported ticket scams. On average, customers who bought fake tickets lost £444 per transaction.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Meri O’Connell is urging music and sports fans to be wary of buying fake or non-existent tickets. Meri is also calling on social media sites to do more to crack down on online ticket fraud.

Trading standards teams at councils nationwide say criminals will be looking to exploit people wanting to see Wembley concerts by Beyonce, Rihanna, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen, attend music festivals such as Reading and Glastonbury and sporting events including the Euro 2016 Championships and Wimbledon.

With some of these events already sold-out or expected to sell-out, Meri is reminding people to buy tickets through official channels and not to risk losing money by using other websites, agencies or social media sites.

Research by the Local Government Association has revealed that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of fake tickets sold online in 2015 were for big sporting events, such as the Rugby World Cup and Premier League football matches. Bogus tickets to gigs and festivals accounted for 15 per cent. More than a fifth (21 per cent) of ticket fraud was instigated via Facebook, with Gumtree accounting for 22 per cent and Twitter 6 per cent.

Recent ticket fraud cases include a man facing a jail sentence for selling non-existent concert tickets online for One Direction, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Take That, with one victim fleeced out of £825, while a Liverpool FC fan was conned out of £700 this month by scammers selling fake Europa League final tickets on Instagram.

More than 200 concert goers complained to Action Fraud last year after tickets purchased for shows including Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and AC/DC from an online ticket website failed to show up.

Meri said:

“Concerts, music festivals and major sporting events are a prime target for fraud, with high-demand events creating a higher number of potential victims.

“With Reading Festival coming up, big-name concerts on the horizon and Glastonbury Festival already sold out, this summer is ripe for criminals to exploit desperate fans willing to do anything to get a ticket to see England play or see their favourite band.

“Fans are often prepared to pay vastly inflated prices for tickets and might be tempted to resort to unofficial websites. But they risk losing a lot of money if they turn out to be fake or don’t exist.

“Social media sites now account for nearly half of all ticket scams and they need to do more to help prevent people being conned paying for tickets on their sites.

“People should be very wary of ticket offers for ‘sold out’ events as these situations are exploited by criminals. Similarly, if the price seems too good to be true, it’s likely to be a scam.

“Fans should only buy tickets from official sites and when buying resold tickets ensure that they are buying from vendors who have been approved by the event organiser.

“Anyone suspecting any dodgy scams should contact the Council’s trading standards team at http://beta.reading.gov.uk/tradingstandards