‘Don’t be fooled by low price’: Victims in SG lose RM5,300 to conmen over Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift tickets

Sandra (not her real name), a 19-year-old student fell prey to a scammer over Bruno Mars’ concert tickets. — KEVIN LIM/The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE: Two pop music fans who had their hearts set on watching their favourite artists perform live ended up losing nearly S$1,500 (RM5,309) to online conmen.

In January, Nanyang Polytechnic student Sandra (not her real name) armed herself with four devices – a phone, an iPad and 2 laptops – to make sure she would get her hands on tickets for Bruno Mars, ahead of his concert in April.

Despite her efforts, she could not get her tickets from authorised seller Ticketmaster.

So, she decided to try her luck on messaging platform Telegram – an option that a few of her friends suggested.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Feb 27, Sandra, 19, said: “I’ve heard horror stories about online marketplace Carousell and how there are many scam listings, so I tried Telegram instead.”

Tickets at the authorised seller sold for S$174 (RM615) each, but she expected re-sellers to add a small mark-up in price, she added.

“I was looking for two standing tickets, and found someone selling them on Telegram for S$200 (RM707) each.”

To be safe, she asked the seller for screenshots of the tickets, and for the tickets to be handed over to her in person. The seller agreed but asked for a 50% deposit in advance.

Said Sandra: “I was sceptical at first, but I checked the number used for his PayNow account and also saw that he had a typical Singaporean name. I thought he was genuine.”

Everything went downhill after she made payment. The seller blocked her on Telegram, which meant she could not contact the person or demand a refund. Within an hour, she lodged a police report.

She has yet to tell her father, but her mother is angry that she fell for the scam.

Sandra has since bought the tickets – from Ticketmaster this time – after more concert dates were added.

Wu, an 18-year-old Raffles Music College student from Shanghai, showing her exchange with the scammer during a media interview on Feb 27, 2024. — KEVIN LIM/The Straits Times/ANNWu, an 18-year-old Raffles Music College student from Shanghai, showing her exchange with the scammer during a media interview on Feb 27, 2024. — KEVIN LIM/The Straits Times/ANN

Foreign student Wu Yoyo, who studies at the Raffles Music College in Alexandra, said she fell for the same tactics with two different sellers on Carousell.

The 18-year-old, who is from Shanghai, said she wanted to attend the Coldplay concert – not because she was a fan of the British band, but because this would be her first concert.

She found tickets for both concerts on sale on Carousell – she could not get Coldplay tickets from Ticketmaster, and she did not want to stand in line at the crack of dawn for Taylor Swift tickets.

Wu said she leaned towards listings that were reasonably priced. For Coldplay, she was looking at two Category 4 seats costing S$300 (RM1,061) in total, and four Category 1 Taylor Swift tickets that added up to S$1,600 (RM5,662).

On the official ticketing platforms, the Coldplay tickets were being sold for S$214 (RM757) each, while the Swift tickets were going for S$358 (RM1,267) each, she added.

When she was ready to buy the Coldplay tickets, she contacted the seller on WhatsApp.

She said: “I thought I could trust him because besides selling tickets on his account, he was also selling electronics. He also had a few good reviews on his page.”

Wu later realised that he did not have a Singpass verified account.

“After making payment, another person he had sold the same tickets to messaged me after finding my reviews on his page. We confronted him, and he became angry and defensive.”

They lodged a report with Carousell about his account, and at about the same time, the seller became inactive on WhatsApp. Wu made a police report a few days later.

About a month after that incident, she fell for a similar scam when trying to buy tickets for the Taylor Swift concert. This time, she put down a 50% deposit amounting to S$800 (RM2,831) before the person selling the tickets went missing.

Wu – who bought the tickets with her savings and the allowance she gets from her parents – said she was disappointed and angry that she could not get her money back.

On Feb 23, Carousell said it will suspend ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s concert from Feb 23 to March 9, with all existing listings removed by Feb 26.

New listings will not be allowed until the concerts wrap up on March 9.

Both Sandra and Wu said their advice for concertgoers was to pay attention to sellers’ profiles online, such as how long they have been on platforms like Carousell, and what the reviews of their previous transactions are like.

More importantly, it is important that sellers on Carousell have Singpass verification.

Also, it is best to meet in person when completing a transaction.

“Don’t be fooled by the low price point some of the sellers put up,” Wu said.

At least 1,534 victims lost a total of S$1.1mil (RM3.89mil) or more between January 2023 and January 2024 to the sale of concert tickets by online third-party resellers, according to official numbers from the police.

In 2023, at least 522 victims had fallen prey to such scams by July 10, said the police, with victims losing at least S$518,000 (RM1.83mil). In 2022, 199 people were duped in these scams.

“I can’t believe my hard-earned money is gone down the drain. I’ll be much more careful in the future,” Sandra said. – The Straits Times (Singapore)/Asia News Network

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