A total of 1,571 music fans have attempted to buy gig tickets in just one week from a hoax website designed to raise awareness of fake ticket fraud.
Action Fraud and City of London Police in partnership with Get Safe Online and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) set up a bogus website called Surfed Arts (an anagram of 'fraudsters') that offered tickets to five sold out events across the UK.
Designed to look like a secondary ticket provider and directly imitating the way fraudsters offer fake tickets, the site was created to highlight how easy it is to trick fans into parting with their cash for fake tickets.
To drum up interest, a series of Facebook adverts for Surfed Arts were paid for that targeted people living in areas where there are big name artists due to play sold out concerts.
Adverts were shown to fans of Iron Maiden in Birmingham, Adele in London, Coldplay in Cardiff, Ed Sheeran in Manchester and Bruno Mars in Leeds.
Instead of proceeding to a payment page, the 1,571 people (including 327 Iron Maiden fans) who tried to buy tickets from the site were met with a page advising them how to avoid being tricked into buying fake tickets in the future.
Women aged over 65, living in London were the people who tried to buy the most fake tickets whilst men and women aged 35-44 living in Birmingham were the least inclined to click on the spoof advert.
Although government legislation has recently been introduced to prevent the use of ‘bots’ buying vast amounts of tickets to sell on secondary sites, and Iron Maiden successfully utilised a series stringent anti-touting initiatives to stop tickets changing hands for “ludicrously inflated” prices for the home leg of their Book of Souls World Tour, the threat of sites like Surfed Arts who don’t even have tickets to sell in the first place still remains.
More than 21,000 people have reported falling victim to ticket fraud over the past three years and men in their twenties are the most likely to be tricked.
City of London Police's National Coordinator for Economic Crime, Temporary Commander Dave Clark said: "No matter what you're buying a ticket for: a concert, a sports event or a flight, you need to remain vigilant and be aware that there are fraudsters all over the globe trying to make money out of people's desire to buy tickets quickly and easily online.
"Our fake website 'Surfed Arts' was put together to show just how easy it is to become a victim and we want to help to change consumer's online behaviour so that they don't fall victim to real fraudsters in the future".
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive of STAR, added: "These figures demonstrate that ticket fraud is a continuing problem and that, too often, people are misled by fake promises. Fraudsters prey on the anticipation and excitement that surround our fantastic sports and entertainment industries.
"It is vital that customers take care when buying tickets. Protect yourself by following safe ticket-buying advice and by taking time to research the authorised sellers for an event before parting with any money.
"STAR and its members are committed to providing customers with high standards of service and information and to playing our part in helping you avoid the fraudsters."