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Wednesday 24 January 2024

Scammers aiming to pull a swifty on Swifties

Planning a trip to Sydney or Melbourne for a Taylor Swift concert?

In addition to being confronted by astronomical hotel prices and absurdly hiked airfares, fans are also being warned to take steps to check that tickets to her upcoming Eras Tour concerts being re-sold on social media are legitimate.

Consumer advocate organisation CHOICE has reported a surge in scam reports.

As the tour dates approach, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Scamwatch say they have received 273 reports of people being scammed buying Swift tickets on social media, with over $135,000 lost so far.

Scammers are using hacked social media accounts to put up posts or send messages to friend lists that include a story about how they can no longer attend the concert and are wanting to sell their tickets at cost price.

These posts are sometimes posted in community groups or among friends and appear to be from a trusted source. After the ticket is paid for, the contact disappears and the ticket never arrives.

ACCC deputy chair Catrina Lowe says they are working with law enforcement to combat the scams, which she is concerned will only increase in frequency as the concerts draw closer.

"We are urging fans to be alert to scammers and think twice before seeking to buy a ticket on social media, even if it's from a friend or community page you trust," Lowe says.

"Be mindful that scammers have been hacking genuine accounts to appear legitimate and are tricking trusting friends or connections into buying Taylor Swift tickets that don't exist."

The ACCC and CHOICE have warned customers against purchasing tickets from re-selling websites that who sometimes mark-up tickets to concerts at illegally inflated prices and have also been susceptible to scam activity.

The ACCC says if you are considering buying re-sold tickets through social media (which they advise against), you should independently contact the friend who is selling the tickets via a different channel and check it is legitimate.

They warn that scammers will often create a sense of urgency, but you should not be rushed or pressured into a quick purchase. Where possible, use platforms like Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal rather than paying by bank transfer.

If you do fall victim to a scam, they urge you to contact your bank immediately, report it to Scamwatch, alert the platform you were scammed on and warn your friends and family.

CHOICE campaigns and policy advisor Yelena Nam says digital platforms need to do more to prevent scams and that the government should strengthen their proposed scam reforms to ensure there are new obligations on the companies.

"It's disappointing that well-resourced tech companies continue to fail to detect, prevent and respond to scams exploiting weaknesses in their platforms," she said.

"The government must urgently force digital platforms to comply with strong, mandatory obligations to protect people from harm.

"At a minimum, digital platforms should be required to detect and prevent user accounts from being hacked by scammers and quickly restore affected user accounts to their owners. If these companies had effective measures in place, scammers would have a much harder time targeting victims."

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