What is Ticket Scalping?

Ticket Scalping Definition for Cybersecurity

Ticket scalping is the invasion of scalping bots into the ticketing industry. Automated bots, known as ticket scalpers, swoop in and buy up tickets for high-demand events such as concerts, sports games, or theater shows, and then sell them on for ridiculously inflated prices. This often leads to genuine customers, for example die-hard fans of the musician playing the concert, being left with the sad choice to either fork out unfair amounts of money, or not go to the event at all. 

How Do Ticket Scalpers Attack?

Ticket scalpers use various methods to achieve their goal of money-making at the expense of loyal fans and customers.  Here are some of their strategies for attack: 

  • Identity Deceit: Scalpers can take on multiple identities in order to purchase more tickets, which enables them to bypass any restrictions on the number of tickets one single user is allowed to purchase. Sometimes scalpers steal identities or create fake profiles, so it is difficult for them to be traced. Scalpers deploy multiple bots to make speedy purchases, multiplying the number of tickets they can acquire.
  • Insider Access: Some ticket scalpers exploit the presales for ticketed events, where certain groups (for example top fans, album buyers) get early access. Scalpers may acquire memberships or credentials to gain unauthorized presale access. This means they can swoop in and buy up tickets before they’ve even been released on general sale. 
  • Automated Scripts: Scalper bots run on automated programs which enable them to rapidly purchase a large number of tickets the second they are released on sale. Scalpers are able to operate at a much faster speed than individual buyers.
  • Flash Sales and Limited-Time Offers: Similar to presales, as mentioned, scalpers also take advantage of limited-time offers or flash sales, seizing any opportunity they can to purchase tickets quickly to resell. 
  • Speculative Buying: Scalpers may speculate on the demand for certain events, prioritizing buying tickets in advance and reselling them at a premium if the event becomes highly popular. 

What Tools do Ticket Scalpers Use? 

Ticket scalpers equip themselves with an array of scalping software and tools, including: 

  • Auto refreshers - Designed to monitor the ticket sale commencement, bots will auto-refresh web pages to check on the start of an online sale, and ensure that their credit card details are pre-saved. This way they can check out faster than regular users can. 
  • API scraper scripts - They create macros to automate tasks like form-filling and information input.
  • Pre-bots - Automatically establish accounts on multiple websites.
  • Form filler scripts.
  • Fake Identification - They either use stolen personal information or synthetic IDs if identification is required. 

How to Beat Ticket Scalping Bots? 

Defeating ticket scalpers requires a combination of technological solutions, regulatory measures, and user awareness. Some strategies to counteract these pesky bots include:

  • Anti-Bot Technologies: Advanced bot detection technologies can block automated bot activity. 
  • Purchasing Limits: Implementing strict restrictions on the number of tickets an individual can purchase can slow down scalpers as they cannot acquire large numbers of tickets in a single transaction (but this can encourage scalpers to create multiple identities). 
  • Detect Bulk Purchases: Enforce measures to detect and prevent bulk purchases from a single IP address to limit scalpers using automated scripts to buy in bulk. 
  • Verified Fan Programs: Utilize programs where users must register in advance and undergo a verification process to prove their identity and authenticity (ie bot or human). 
  • Legislation: Advocate for and enforce legislation that regulates ticket resale practices, for example setting price caps on resale tickets or setting rules for resale sites. 
  • Raise Awareness: Educate users on the risks and consequences of purchasing from scalpers. Encourage buying tickets from official sources. Businesses could collaborate with ticketing platforms to share information and develop holistic strategies to combat scalping. 
  • Queue Systems: Virtual waiting rooms and queue systems, that randomly assign users a place in line, can make it harder for bots to predict when they will gain access to the tickets. 
  • Implement CAPTCHA Challenges: Require users to solve CAPTCHA challenges during the ticket buying process. This helps differentiate between human users and bots. Advanced CAPTCHAs that are harder for bots to solve can be particularly effective. 


Is Ticket Scalping Legal?

Many regions and venues have implemented laws and regulations to combat scalping, including setting price caps, requiring transparency in ticket listings, and limiting the resale of tickets for profit. Nonetheless, scalping continues to be a challenge, and fans are encouraged to be cautious when purchasing tickets from secondary markets to avoid scams or inflated prices. 

What Percentage of Tickets Go To Scalpers? 

The percentage of tickets going to scalpers varies depending on factors such as the popularity of an event, the demand for tickets, and the effectiveness of security measures implemented by event organizers and ticketing platforms. However, according to Imperva, after they surveyed 180 different ticketing websites, it is estimated that a colossal 40% of all ticket purchases online are made by scalper bots. 

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.