Editor’s note: In a previous version of this story, we incorrectly characterized the charges against Top Star Tickets. We have fixed the error and apologize for the mistake.
A Connecticut ticket broker that has listed thousands of tickets on StubHub has been fined $3.5 million by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for illegally using BOTS to buy and resell tickets.
The fine was part of a larger $4.2 million settlement agreement with seven ticket resale operators and comes nearly a year-and-a-half after Schneiderman published a scathing report on the ticket reselling industry, and just months after former President Barack Obama outlawed the use of BOTs to buy up tickets.
“Unscrupulous ticket resellers who break the rules and take advantage of ordinary consumers are one of the major reasons why ticketing remains a rigged system,” Attorney General Schneiderman said in a release. “We will continue to fight to make ticketing a more fair and transparent marketplace, so fans have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite shows and events. Anybody who breaks the law will pay a steep price.”
According to a release from Schneiderman, Prestige Entertainment employees used two different bots and thousands of credit cards and Ticketmaster accounts to purchase tickets to New York shows. To avoid detection, Prestige used proxy IP addresses to help it buy up tickets, including the purchase of 1,012 tickets in less than a minute to a 2014 U2 concert at Madison Square Garden.
Amplify reached out to Prestige Entertainment and a representative for the company said they would not be commenting for the story. Prestige is a well-known brokerage firm that often lists its tickets on StubHub. Amplify reached out to StubHub for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.
Also swept up in the bust is Presidential Tickets of New York, Concert Specials Inc. of New York, Fantech Inc. of New York and BMC Capital Partners of New York, all charged with illegally using BOTS to acquire tickets and selling tickets to New York shows without a license. Another company, Componica of Iowa, was charged with developing BOT software to defeat Ticketmaster’s security measures like CAPTCHA. Top Star Tickets of Massachusetts was charged with selling tickets to New York events without a NY license.
Since releasing its report Obstructed View: What’s Blocking New Yorkers From Getting Tickets in January 2016, the Attorney General’s office has announced settlements with 15 businesses involved in ticket resale for a total of $7.1 million. In 2016, New York enacted legislation that added criminal penalties for bot use to the existing civil penalties. That law took effect in February 2017. The settlements announced to date involved misconduct committed before the new law took effect.
These cases were handled by Bureau of Internet and Technology (BIT) Assistant Attorneys General Aaron Chase, Jordan Adler, and Noah Stein, and BIT Bureau Chief Kathleen McGee. The Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice is Manisha Sheth.