Ticketmaster Says Bot Army Bought 30,000 ‘Hamilton’ Tickets
Monday, October 2, 2017
By Gene Maddaus | Variety
A ticket broker used an army of bots to buy up 30,000 tickets to “Hamilton,” along with hundreds of thousands of other orders, according to a federal suit filed by Ticketmasteron Monday.
Ticketmaster accuses Prestige Entertainment of employing sophisticated technology to defeat its anti-scalping measures. According to the suit, Prestige and its affiliates used 9,047 separate accounts to make 313,528 ticket orders over the course of 20 months. At times, Prestige was able to acquire 30-40% of the “Hamilton” tickets available through Ticketmaster.
“The inventory of tickets available to consumers who do not use bots is substantially diminished, which has led some consumers to question Ticketmaster’s ability to ensure a level playing field for the purchase of tickets,” the suit states.
Prestige, which is based in Greenwich, Conn., and also goes by Renaissance Ventures, did not return a call seeking comment. In May, the New York attorney general’s office announced a settlement with several ticket brokers, including Prestige, for use of bots to obtain tickets. The investigation found that Prestige was able to buy 1,012 tickets to a U2 concert in one minute. Tickets are then resold on the secondary market, with an average markup of 49%. Prestige paid $3.35 million to settle the charges, and agreed to “abstain from using bots.”
Ticketmaster launched its own investigation after determining that Prestige was able to buy up a majority of its tickets to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas in 2015, according to the suit, and only recently became fully aware of the vast extent of Prestige’s activities.
The company says that Prestige goes to great lengths to conceal the identity of the purchaser, including using multiple credit cards, email addresses, and IP addresses, in order to evade Ticketmaster’s order limits.
The suit alleges that Prestige also rents high-speed bandwidth and storage from third-party colocation facilities, thereby gaining an edge over customers who access sales through traditional service providers. Most of the Mayweather-Pacquiao orders came from just five colocation providers: Desert Cloud LLC, Nth Air, NSI Hosting, Mac MINI Colos, and Galaxy Internet. Ticketmaster’s investigators tracked the identities of those accounts back to Prestige, the suit alleges.
The suit accuses Prestige of getting around CAPTCHA codes — the word-duplication tests meant to screen out bots — by using software and CAPTCHA farms, where tests are presented to human users to solve.
Ticketmaster alleges that Prestige is violating its agreement with the attorney general’s office.
“Ticketmaster has zero tolerance for bots and will continue to employ all available methods to stop their usage,” the company said in a statement.