Taylor Swift fan blocked after paying 'reseller' $700 for tickets among 54 scammed in under a week

Nadine Chua
The Straits Times
July 15, 2023

She was a concert ticket scam victim nine years ago, but desperate for two tickets to Taylor Swift’s concert next March, she paid $700 to a “reseller” on Carousell.

Thinking she had snagged a good deal for two Category 3 tickets worth $288 each, Anna (not her real name), 30, thanked the “reseller” profusely. She was excited to get tickets to surprise her boyfriend, a huge Swift fan, only to realise she had been scammed a second time when the “reseller” blocked her after receiving the cash.

Anna, an administrative executive, was one of at least 54 victims who lost more than $45,000 in less than a week, thinking they had bought tickets to Swift’s The Eras Tour, which will be held over six nights at the National Stadium, from March 2 to 4, and March 7 to 9.

About 300,000 fans are expected to attend, and the tickets, which cost between $88 and $1,228, sold out over two days of sales.

Revealing the scam figures to The Straits Times, the police said that with more acts announcing concert dates in Singapore this year, there has been a resurgence of scams involving concert ticket sales. They said the latest figures showed that at least 522 victims fell prey to such scams this year as at July 10, with victims losing at least $518,000.

This is more than the 199 victims who were duped in such scams in the whole of 2022. The amount lost so far this year was almost triple the $175,000 lost to such scams in the whole of 2022.

Anna had failed to get tickets on July 5 during the pre-sale for UOB cardholders.

Her queue number was 300,000 on her laptop, but she got a better number on her mobile phone, of around 20,000.

She said: “I thought I had a good chance of buying two tickets to surprise my boyfriend, who has been a fan since her debut album, Taylor Swift, came out in 2006. It will be his 32nd birthday in March too.”

ST had reported that more than a million virtual queue numbers were issued during the pre-sale.

Said Anna: “I got in, selected two seats for us, but got kicked out because I couldn’t log into my Ticketmaster account.”

She was pushed to the back of the virtual queue with more than 600,000 people in front of her. The tickets sold out within three hours.

Anna said: “I thought the pre-sale was my only shot, so I immediately went to Carousell to hunt for tickets.”

Her heart sank when she saw tickets being sold for three to five times the original price.

Then, she found a seller listing two Category 3 tickets for $500 each, which she thought was reasonable.

She said: “I even negotiated with the seller and told him I don’t earn much. And he agreed to sell me two tickets for $700. He seemed sincere, and I kept thanking him for helping me.”

Anna said she quickly transferred the money to him via PayNow. She realised she had been scammed only when the seller blocked her on Carousell and WhatsApp.

She lodged a police report that day and investigations are ongoing, said the police.

She said this was her second time being scammed over concert tickets. In 2014, she lost $500 after trying to get a ticket to Japanese boy band Arashi’s live screening of their concert in Japan.

Anna said: “It didn’t cross my mind I would get scammed again.”

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Hospital, said it is not just the fans who are desperate for tickets.

He said: “When someone needs to get tickets for someone they care about, like their partner or young children, not wanting to disappoint them can really add to the stress of it all.”

He said they might suspect the reseller is a scammer, but that desire to get tickets is so huge it overrides any potential risk of being scammed.

He added: “To them, it is a risky investment, and they are willing to take that chance.”

Dr Reuben Ng, a behavioural scientist and assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said for some, it’s about bragging rights.

He said: “Acts like Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Jacky Cheung are so popular and have sheer star power. There could be people who want tickets to their concerts to wear like a badge of honour, or for bragging rights.”

He added: “Because of the sheer rarity of the event and how difficult it is to get tickets, people may go on various platforms to buy them, no matter the cost.”

The police said Twitter was the most common platform on which victims fell prey to Taylor Swift concert ticket scams. Other platforms scammers used included Carousell, Xiaohongshu, Telegram and Facebook.

Said the police: “With many unsuspecting customers falling prey to e-commerce scams involving concert tickets lately, the police have highlighted to Carousell and other platforms such as Twitter and Meta the growing concern of scams arising from the resale of concert tickets.”

In the police’s weekly scams update on Friday, e-commerce scams, which include concert tickets scams, made it to the top five list of scams of concern. It was not there last week.

The police have advised the public to check the company’s official website, seller’s online reviews and ratings, and to avoid making advance payments or direct bank transfers to unfamiliar people or those not met in person.

They also advised not to install any apps that sellers send via links in messaging platforms, and to only download apps from official app stores like Apple Store and Google Play Store.

A Carousell spokesman said the platform is alerted to concert ticket scams through reports from users, indicators from its fraud detection tool and alerts from the police. She said: “Our team works swiftly to moderate listings and alert our users about not getting swept away by too good a deal when demands peak, such as when concert tickets are released.” She added that users should report any suspicious listings to the platform.

Anna eventually managed to buy two Category 3 tickets during the July 7 UOB reserve tickets sale.

She said: “My heart aches to think I was scammed of $700 because I was so hasty.”

The Straits Times

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.