Three Long Island-based ticket brokers agreed to pay around $ 3.7 million to resolve alleged violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) law, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission said on Friday. According to the announcements, these will be the first enforcement actions taken by the department and the FTC under the BOTS law.
The Companies – Just in Time Tickets, owned by Evan Kohanian; Concert Specials, owned by Steven Ebrani; and Cartisim Corp., owned by Simon Ebrani, were accused of violating the 2016 BOTS Act, which aims to prevent ticket brokers from buying large numbers of event tickets and selling them on to interested customers at inflated prices. The law prohibits individuals from circumventing access controls or measures used by online ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster to enforce ticket purchase limits. It also prevents the resale of tickets obtained by knowingly bypassing access controls.
As alleged in the three complaints filed by the US, the three companies violated the BOTS law to purchase thousands of tickets from Ticketmaster, which they subsequently resold for millions of dollars in revenue, often at substantial mark-ups. The defendants are charged with circumventing Ticketmaster’s restrictions on users with multiple accounts by creating accounts on behalf of family members, friends and fictional people, and by using hundreds of credit cards, according to the announcement. They also allegedly used ticket bots to run tests to prevent non-human visitors, and the complaints allege that the defendants used programs to hide the IP addresses of the computers they used to make purchases.
« These defendants are believed to have defrauded the system to the detriment of consumers, » said Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Department of Justice’s civil division. “Today’s filing indicates that the Department of Justice will enforce the Better Online Ticket Selling Act in appropriate cases. We look forward to working with our partners in the Federal Trade Commission on this and other consumer concerns. «
« Those who break the BOTS Act cheat fans by forcing them to pay excessive prices for concerts, theater performances and sporting events, » said acting US attorney Seth D. DuCharme for the Eastern District of New York. « This bureau will go out of its way to ban fraudulent practices that harm consumers. »
The three court-issued orders provide civil sanctions of $ 31 million – $ 11.2 million against Just in Time Tickets Inc. and Kohanian, $ 16 million against Concert Specials Inc. and Steven Ebrani, and $ 4.4 million Million USD against Cartisim Corp. and Simon Ebrani. However, due to their inability to pay those amounts, the DOJ and FTC allowed part of these civil sanctions to be suspended if the defendants met certain conditions, the announcement said.
However, companies were exempted from paying the full penalties if they agreed to pay amounts between $ 1.64 and $ 499,000 and met certain additional conditions, including not using ticket bots or other computer programs to control the Bypass access controls and hide the IP addresses of computers that they use to make ticket purchases and purchase tickets from a credit or debit account on behalf of anyone other than the Defendant or their officers and employees. The defendants are also required to keep records and submit compliance reports to the government.