• White Collar – Ticket Frauds

    Author : July 19, 2018

    Plenty of musicians are trying to crack down on scalpers – people who buy dozens of their tickets at face value, only to sell them on second-hand markets at extortionate prices. Adele, Ed Sheeran, Radiohead and Iron Maiden have all made strides to revoke tickets they believe were sold to these scalpers. A few have teamed up with specific secondary markets that will sell tickets only at face value, but this only helps so much. Some scalpers have also forged tickets to various events and sold the worthless passes to unsuspecting victims. However, the Manhattan DA has also made strides in cracking down on individuals selling these fakes.

    The defendants are alleged to have tricked victims into paying hundreds of dollars for fake tickets they created, which were subsequently advertised as legitimate tickets on Facebook, Craigslist, and other internet sites. According to court records, for just over one year, Isaac Chestnut and Rahiem Watts designed fake tickets and recruited their friends to the scheme to help them make the sales. Among the ticket sales were the Dear Evan Hansen musical, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake concerts. They also sold sports tickets to the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. The D.A. accuses the group of stealing thousands of dollars from various individuals.

    After a search warrant was executed on Chestnut and Watts’ respective residences, law enforcement discovered several forgery devices, ledgers of victims’ names and contact information, the amount of money per sale and the name of the show. There were also over 100 forged tickets to upcoming various events.

    The indictment has charged the men with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Forgery in the Second Degree, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. While all five members of the group have been charged with various crimes, Chestnut and Watts face the largest number – 54 and 76 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

    Second-degree possession of a forged instrument requires the state to prove that the defendants possessed an instrument they know to be fake or false with the intent to defraud or deceive another. Certain types of instruments will qualify as a felony offense, include a contract, like a ticket to a show. This is a class D felony, which carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison as well as potentially steep fines. Additionally, forgery in the Second Degree is also classed as a Class D felony in New York, and in addition to the jail time potential, those convicted also face a fine of up to $5,00.00 – or double the defendant's gain in the forgery. Therefore, the defendants could be facing fairly steep fines in connection with their scheme.

    This group is not the first to capitalize on the massive entertainment industry offered in the Big Apple. In 2016, at the height of the musical Hamilton’s popularity, dozens of individuals were the victim of counterfeit ticket makers, purchased on sites like Craigslist. It’s no wonder  - the show is sold out up to a year in advance, and the secondary market sells tickets for over $1,300.00. Such conditions certainly make it tempting for individuals to sell counterfeit and fraudulent tickets.

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