Earlier this month, an electronic archive of 13.4 million documents known as the Paradise Papers was leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The second biggest data leak in history after the Panama Papers last year, the catastrophe revealed top-secret tax and real estate information for high-profile figures like Bono, Madonna, and Queen Elizabeth II.
Now just a week after the leak, a report from the CBC and Toronto Star has uncovered a multimillion dollar ticket-scalping scam involving big name acts like Drake, Metallica, Ed Sheeran, and Adele, whose tickets this year sold out in record times. In the leaked papers, a Canadian superscalper named Julien Lavallée is shown somehow buying concert tickets just seconds after going on sale from locations all around the world in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and Montreal.
Thanks to international ticket retailer StubHub‘s “top sellers” program for retailers “who can prove they can move more than $50,000 worth of tickets a year,” Lavallée was able to run a multimillion dollar operation that preyed on the innocence of hopeful concert-goers. The leak reveals StubHub’s “Top Seller Handbook,” which shows the retailer offering financial incentives for high-volume resellers, who in some cases make as much as a 10 percent profit on each ticket sold.
In a statement shared with the paper, StubHub admitted to having a top-seller program, but refused to reveal how many retailers are enrolled or what percentage of StubHub’s sales are facilitated by these “industrial-scale scalpers.” Though Lavallée has admitted to one such “partnership” with the company, StubHub was unable to comment on their potential involvement with the individual, saying that the company “holds all sellers to a very high standard and requires they follow all relevant laws.” In a longer statement, they added:
“StubHub agrees that the use of bots to procure tickets is unfair and anti-consumer. StubHub has always supported anti-bots legislation and encourages policy-makers to look comprehensively at the host of factors that impact a fan’s ability to fairly access, buy, resell, or even give away tickets in a competitive ticket market.”
While StubHub may say this sort of thing to the public, it’s hard not to wonder just how deep this sort of scandal really goes, with resold tickets regularly costing hundreds of dollars to the public. Check out the investigation for yourself in full here.