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Scalpers Bought Tickets With CAPTCHA-Busting Botnet

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the free-market-solution dept.

Crime 301

alphadogg writes "Three California men have pleaded guilty to charges they built a network of CAPTCHA-solving computers that flooded online ticket vendors and snatched up the very best seats for Bruce Springsteen concerts, Broadway productions and even TV tapings of Dancing with the Stars. The men ran a company called Wiseguy Tickets, and for years they had an inside track on some of the best seats in the house at many events. They scored about 1.5 million tickets after hiring Bulgarian programmers to build 'a nationwide network of computers that impersonated individual visitors' on websites such as Ticketmaster, MLB.com and LiveNation, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said Thursday in a press release. The network would 'flood vendors computers at the exact moment that event tickets went on sale,' the DoJ said. They had to create shell corporations, register hundreds of fake Internet domains (one was stupidcellphone.com) and sign up for thousands of bogus e-mail addresses to make the scam work."

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301 comments

Capitalism at work (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293348)

What is so wrong?

Re:Capitalism at work (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293364)

Exactly. Going through all that effort is a pretty clear demonstration they wanted the ticket more than other people who were not as highly motivated.

If the true market value is higher than the face value, then I think the right of first sale should apply. I should be able to buy something for $X, and sell it for $2X if the market will support it.

Re:Capitalism at work (5, Insightful)

ovirto (1213596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293624)

Your assumption is that if this is based on capitalism, there must be nothing wrong with it. I'm not exactly sure that's a good assumption. Take the recent credit derivatives debacle that threw our economy into a tailspin. Hey, Goldman Sachs and others created a product, people were willing to buy a product at a certain price. There's a risk element just like there is with any other security. That's capitalism, what's wrong with that? i think history demonstrates that, while based on capitalism, how unhealthy this activity was to our economy. As far as tickets go, let's say these tickets were priced at value that both the promoter and the artist agreed would be fair compensation. Their goal being to make some money for the work they produce while at the same time, setting the price in a range that allows a broad base of fans to enjoy. Scalpers come in, buy up the majority of the tickets and resell them at double the value. Sure, that's capitalism. But that act may have effectively shut out a large fan base that can't afford that new price. What's wrong with that? Well, from a market perspective, nothing (perhaps). It's supply and demand. But from a societal perspective, it starts to put a bigger wedge between the haves and have-nots. Entertainment/Sports/etc. becomes a industry that can be enjoyed only if you have a certain amount of wealth. In the long run, that may not be beneficial to that industry as the fan base drops. Keep in mind that the industry itself had set a price in order to maintain/increase fan base. It was the act of a third party that may have priced out a potential consumers.

Re:Capitalism at work (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293734)

Goldman Sachs and others created a product, people were willing to buy a product at a certain price. There's a risk element just like there is with any other security. That's capitalism, what's wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with that but those MBS and other derivatives were marketed as being less risky than lots of those guys knew they in fact were. There is nothing wrong with derivatives, the problem had to do with FRAUD up and down the line. People applying for loans gave fraudulent information to brokers, brokers fraudulently modified the applications farther or simply passed on the documents as vetted without doing it. Banks wrote the loans and then sold them to other banks fraudulently claiming their application processes were secure when they were knowingly doing nothing to verify what brokers will telling them. Those other banks lumped those loans into baskets of vary quality claiming that it was diversification and reduced risk. The trouble was because of all the FRAUD up and down the line many many more of the loans in those baskets of high quality mortgages were actually low quality. Knowing this they marketed the securities any way FRAUDULENTLY insisting they were safe. Then people bought insure on the investment which by this point many of these investors might not have know there were problems but many still did know and in those cases the FRAUDULENTLY characterized the risk the the insurer who went with it because they wanted to have the business to show their investors. The insurers probably knew what was going on as well but because of all the other FRAUD they were able to claim most of their exposure was only to high quality assets and push up their stock prices that way. Then because people had the insurance which was to affordable they used more leverage than they otherwise would buy more of the same FRAUD laden crap and repeated the process until it was unsustainable.

So the problem was not capitalism, but FRAUD and sadly none of the solutions actually involved prosecuting anyone from FRAUD.

Re:Capitalism at work (2, Insightful)

ovirto (1213596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293912)

I don't disagree with your points on fraud. The point is that people often mistaken or excuse fraud in the name of capitalism. That same fraudulent argument applies to ticket scalping as well. Ticketmaster (or whomever) set rules in place regarding the sale of tickets. These people FRAUDULENTLY misrepresented themselves by FRAUDULENTLY identifying themselves as individual purchasers. Then they resell these tickets at a FRAUDULENT value that is well and above the MSRP. Just because the market may bear that price doesn't make it legal or ethical. Hence the quote from the article "These defendants made money by combining age-old fraud with new-age computer hacking," the DoJ said in its press release.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293980)

I agree, if TM they falsified there identities with TM than they broke the rules.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293886)

the price of tickets is below the demand driven price. this is why scalping exists. make it illegal and you create black market capitalism. as long as the opportunity for profit exists, then there will be capitalists ready to take advantage of it. It doesn't really matter how strongly you make your anti-capitalist arguments, the reality of this will still be there.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293906)

I thought online scalping was legal because I often see concert tickets on ebay. So I'm very confused.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

ovirto (1213596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294004)

Rules exist even within capitalism. This is a case of fraud, not capitalism. Capitalism is just the veil that they choose to hide under. It doesn't matter how strongly you assert your pro-criminal arguments, the reality of this will still be there.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294024)

The ticket is sold with an EULA ... breaking a contract for monetary gain is no more "black market capitalism" than robbing a convenience store.

The price of not getting shot is also below the demand driven price.

Re:Capitalism at work (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293630)

Capitalism: The new religion of the 21st and 22nd century. Like all religions, dare ye not question it! For God is in the numbers. Everything has a price - everything must go! Sell your soul for a buck, you won't need where we're going. The only rule is that money rules all. Dig in, pig out, eat not your fill but everything you can take. Fuck your neighbours, what's yours is yours and what's theirs should be yours too! For the free market is divine and it commands that the only true virtue is greed. So pile on, like rats atop a sinking ship, for he who can reach the highest will eventually touch the sun, and be made supreme!
Welcome to paradise, don't mind the mess.

Someone stop the planet, I want off.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293718)

Why? Why is what the market will support the moral arbiter?

Setting that aside, there's a reason tickets like those are priced lower than what the venue could get for them. It's to create shortage. Raising the prices would eliminate the shortage, sure. That's not what the venue, or the bands, want though. They want people fighting to get their hands on the ticket. By pricing the tickets lower they increase the number who will want to go to that show--and if they can't, then the next one (or the next one). Pricing tickets as high as the market will support is NOT always the best strategy, regardless of your dogma.

Re:Capitalism at work (3, Insightful)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293388)

Agreed. From where I sit, you have a group of guys that figured out a way to get the tickets first. It's not like they hacked anyone's servers and got tickets that they shouldn't have had access to. They bought them just like everyone else. How is this any different than getting all of your friends and family to hop on Ticketmaster the second tickets become available to increase your chances? Trust me, I know lots of people who do or have done this.

I just don't get what the big deal is here.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293448)

I just don't get what the big deal is here.

You're stepping on Ticketmaster's turf...

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293554)

Agreed. From where I sit, you have a group of guys that figured out a way to get the tickets first. It's not like they hacked anyone's servers and got tickets that they shouldn't have had access to. They bought them just like everyone else. How is this any different than getting all of your friends and family to hop on Ticketmaster the second tickets become available to increase your chances? Trust me, I know lots of people who do or have done this.

I just don't get what the big deal is here.

They are using an underhanded method to try to up the price and act as a primary wholesaler (not aftermarket due to the limited time frame that the products are useful). I am quite sure that there are contracts and licensing required to be one, like TicketMaster.

Well, on the positive side, TicketMaster and others could agree to double or triple the price and still make a killing, but that would lower the fan appreciation. Perhaps another method would be to contact and reserve the tickets w/o paying, but required to be there in person or at least present a valid ID at the event to pick-up or simply gain entrance to the events. In other words, using a Valid Issued ID or the Credit Card that purchased the ticket become the ticket till the event is over with. That would ruin the fun of holding a ticket even though it would be easier all around.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

gilbert644 (1515625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293562)

If it's illegal to DoS attack web resources why shouldn't it be illegal to DoS attack tickets? Just because the attackers resell the resource they hogged at expectorate prices its suddenly OK?

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293646)

I didn't rtfa, but this doesn't sound like a DoS attack. They are actually buying tickets. That is the differentce

Re:Capitalism at work (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293580)

They didn't even get them first.

They just got a lot of them early in the period of public availability.

Captcha solving is not against the law.

Their problem was the other stunts they pulled. But it wouldn't be much of a slash dot story if we couldn't tie in some technical method.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294130)

Using automated means to retrieve CAPTCHAs is in violation of the terms of service to which you agree when you use these ticket sellers' websites. For example, Ticketmaster's terms [ticketmaster.com] prohibit the use of automatic processes to retrieve CAPTCHAs.

Re:Capitalism at work (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293736)

It's not like they hacked anyone's servers and got tickets that they shouldn't have had access to.

It sounds like that's exactly what they did in order to build a botnet to purchase the tickets for them.

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34294070)

Wrong, not all botnets are built from hacked machines. I can build a botnet with Amazon EC2 or Rackspace Cloud or Slicehost or...

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293760)

I don't understand why DoJ had to get on this. This is justice for you, for a bunch of Bruce whatever concert. Tax dollars go for shit like this than feeding the poor. They outsmarted you, and what so illegal about this? Capitalistic government, no real true justice in almost anything. For example, woman gets raped, a few years in prison. Imagine if the woman was your mother or sister. I say give him the chair, what about justice to the victims and their family? you will never know until in that position.

Would the DoJ come knocking on my door if i had a botnet solve the CAPTCHA and make posts to Slashdot? And why not?

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293780)

Agreed. From where I sit, you have a group of guys that figured out a way to get the tickets first. It's not like they hacked anyone's servers and got tickets that they shouldn't have had access to. They bought them just like everyone else. How is this any different than getting all of your friends and family to hop on Ticketmaster the second tickets become available to increase your chances? Trust me, I know lots of people who do or have done this.

I just don't get what the big deal is here.

Good God. You don't see what the big deal is? I think I'm going to go throw up now. You have a serious lack of ethics along with a serious lack of a sense of fair play. In fact, you make me sick.

Re:Capitalism at work (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294048)

How is this any different than getting all of your friends and family to hop on Ticketmaster the second tickets become available to increase your chances?

1) Your family isn't doing it for profit.

2) You're not reselling the tickets at a markup, which is illegal.

3) You and your family hasn't paid up with the right politicians to get favorable protectionist laws written up for them.

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293468)

If you believe it's OK then I hope you also believe that corporate monopolies are OK too. It's the same thing (limited resource, etc).

Re:Capitalism at work (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293602)

Wait...

The events already had a monopoly on tickets.
The monopoly is a pre-existing fact, a built in shortage.

The BOUGHT the tickets, lots of them. Not ALL the tickets.

Just how do you equate this with a monopoly?

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293502)

It's like they broke into the lab where the secret recipes for ice cream flavors are kept, and they stole Vanilla.

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293644)

Someone OTHER than ticketmaster made money.

THAT is a crime!

In a world where ticketmaster sucked all the dicks to get all the money.....

Re:Capitalism at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293678)

Did you not read "botnet"? They made your computer, and your momma's computer order these tickets. How is that capitalism? That's computer crime. Now, if they had legally acquired all those tickets then I would agree with you that it was capitalism.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293820)

Clearly, since the tickets weren't being auctioned off, the primary seller is attempting to remove market pressures. If someone wants to give something away (such as selling tickets below market value), their ability to limit their gifts to one/person is paramount to that transaction being able to take place. Since the permissibility of scalping causes desired transactions not to be able to performed, we have to choose which type of transaction is allowed.

Re:Capitalism at work (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293996)

I think because they did the hacking using a Bot-Net instead of computers under their own control.

Why is this a "scam"? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293352)

It's no different than what guys like George Soros do...

Re:Why is this a "scam"? (2, Insightful)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293398)

It's no different than what guys like George Soros do...

How is this any different than Ticketmaster scooping up all the good seats and auctioning them off on their own?

The difference would be that these guys are using a botnet and cause what is in essence a denial of service attack. Ticketmaster, on the other hand, probably has a deal with the vendors; these guys do not.

Needs a Botnet? CAPTCHA should be banned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293808)

You know, CAPTCHA always gave me two words to type: one they already knew and one that not even they could figure out. I could always type the one word perfectly and the other word they asked me to type is where I can get creative and write anything I wanted and they'll accept it thankfully as though I am their OCR scanner helping Google Books scan a document before making it available on their public domain repository.

After the recent news, that second word I've been typing for CAPTCHA to unconditionally accept has been either
NIGGER or CRACKER or KIKE or LIMEY SPIC or JEW or WHIGGER or MOLATTO. What the hell is wrong with CAPTCHA and why is it asking me to write all these racist words?

It's like CAPTCHA is trying to use the police-arrest Script of two African Americans arguing on a Day-time TV show. Get me out of here, get rid of CAPTCHA please.

Re:Why is this a "scam"? (1)

r1_97 (462992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293528)

It's no different than what guys like George Soros do...

Who ever labled this insightful? Soros does not use bot nets nor deprive the public of any opportunities to invest in anything (analogous to grabbing up tickets to concerts).

Re:Why is this a "scam"? (5, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293618)

Actually really big money men like Soros pay top dollar to have the fastest connections into the systems that run the exchanges. They also have computer systems running what ever algorithm they think will make a money that day sitting on their side of those connections waiting to pounce. Ever try to get in on a hot IPO as retail investor? You can't, ever try to unload something during a major sell off and wonder why it takes hours when the trade to buy it took seconds (sure some of that might be there are no buyers but..)? Most of this is because you at the back of the line when it comes to placing orders and people like Soros are up front.

Re:Why is this a "scam"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293558)

Go back to your bridge, Troll.

how come there are no 'good' genius's only evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293354)

You gotta hand it to them for being clever. How come there are no 'good' genius's only evil?

Re:how come there are no 'good' genius's only evil (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293378)

The "good" genius works for the corporations. The "evil" ones are always the ones doing things the corporation does not like.

Re:how come there are no 'good' genius's only evil (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293408)

No, that's not correct either.

The "good" genius works for the corporations. The "evil" genius controls the corporations.

Re:how come there are no 'good' genius's only evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293384)

Because they are evil if you cannot understand them...

So? (0, Flamebait)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293368)

How is this any different than Ticketmaster scooping up all the good seats and auctioning them off on their own?

Re:So? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293778)

Are you really that dense?

after hiring Bulgarian programmers to build 'a nationwide network of computers that impersonated individual visitors'

They rented a botnet to buy the tickets with. I don't expect you to RTFA before posting, but is the summary that much to ask for?

Re:So? (3, Insightful)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294038)

It doesnt matter *how* they do it, the end result is the same. The artist wants $10/seat, but a fan ends up paying $50/seat because they have to go through a third party. Ticketmaster is just as bad as any scalper. This time they just got pissed because someone else beat them to it.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34294122)

This so-called "botnet" was a bunch of dedicated servers rented legally. I'm not sure how that's a crime.

Hrm (4, Insightful)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293370)

I'll never understand why "scalping" is illegal in the first place.

Nothing they did seems unethical or immoral to me.

If people are willing to pay more for a ticket, good for them.

Re:Hrm (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293412)

The problem is, what stops you, as a scalper, from buying out every ticket you possibly can through whatever means necessary, and then jack the prices up? I have no problem with a guy buying 2 tickets and selling them if he can't go. The problem comes up when someone buys them all merely to resell them at a profit. It's the same idea behind the limits on purchases of heavily discounted items like TV's, etc. You can't just go in and buy them all just to turn around and sell them at a profit. With limited quantities (tickets, discounted items, etc) you have to put limits/rules in place or the only people buying them are those that want to profit off it.

Re:Hrm (4, Insightful)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293426)

The problem is, what stops you, as a scalper, from buying out every ticket you possibly can through whatever means necessary, and then jack the prices up?

A. Less people buy the tickets and you make less money.
B. Far less people buy the tickets and you lose money.

Free market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293458)

I agree with the gp. Why not let the free market take care of this?

If people are willing to pay the scalpers' prices, then that means the original ticket prices were not high enough.

If they are NOT willing to pay the scalpers' prices, then the scalpers will be stuck with a bunch of tickets they cant sell.

Never mind that only the rich will be able to afford Springsteen tickets at the jacked-up prices. Who cares?

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293466)

"The problem is, what stops you, as a scalper, from buying out every ticket you possibly can through whatever means necessary"

Nothing, but that's also not a problem. If they can still sell all the tickets, it just means the tickets were priced too low to begin with. There's nothing illegal or immoral about buying something cheaper than the market price, and turning around to sell it *at* the market price.

In fact, I've done this myself with automobiles. I've bought cars for $900 that should have been worth $2000, and sold them for $2000 a week later.

Welcome to life in a free market.

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293474)

what stops you, as a scalper, from buying out every ticket you possibly can through whatever means necessary, and then jack the prices up?

Nothing stops you, but if you think that doing this necessarily implies making a profit, then know that I'm selling 100 seats for a $100-a-seat hand-fart show I'm making with 2 buddies. Feel free to scalp them all.

Re:Hrm (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293544)

With limited quantities (tickets, discounted items, etc) you have to put limits/rules in place or the only people buying them are those that want to profit off it.

No you don't need to put limits. Ticket scalping happens because the market is demonstrating that tickets are under priced. If someone buys all the tickets up as you say and than tries to sell them there is a maximum price at which he can expect to move the units. This is the price people are willing to pay to see the show. Lets say I purchase all the $15 dollar tickets to see my favorite band. They are not harmed, they sold their entire inventory of tickets at a price they were willing to offer the service of performing for; I might be able to sell those tickets at $20 each and make a tidy profit. If I try and sell them a $80 each most of them probably won't sell and I will lose my shirt because the self life of the inventory is right up until the show starts and after that its all worthless.

Now if they want to stop ticket scalping the band should simply charge more. If they raise the price to the maximum they can expect to move all the inventory at lets say its $20, than I while I can still buy them all I wont because I can't even resell them all for $21.

Really hot shows just need to up their prices. The performers would make more money and the ticket vendor sites would not get DDOSed, with 1000s of requests in the first moments of sale.

Re:Hrm (4, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293614)

They are not harmed, they sold their entire inventory of tickets at a price they were willing to offer the service of performing for

The second part of this sentence doesn't imply the first. To throw out a hypothesis, it might be that the tickets were deliberately priced below what the market would bear because the aim was not solely to turn a profit on the concert but also to attract lots of impressionable teenagers who might then become life-long fans and spend more on the band over their lifetime than the yuppie who is prepared to pay more for the ticket.

(Actually the biggest example which comes to mind of deliberate underpricing is the BBC Promenade series, and in particular the Last Night. If there were an open market in Last Night of the Proms tickets they'd probably sell for 100 GBP or more, but by making some tickets available to people who queue in person on the day they are able to achieve the aim of making it an event which pretty much anyone near enough London can attend).

Re:Hrm (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293790)

Problem is, the band wants all 100 seats in the venue to be filled. The scalpers don't give a shit if they sell all the tickets they bought, as long as they sell enough of them to profit. Buying all 100 tickets for $10 each and marking up the price to $100 each means they can sell 20 to the people who REALLY want to go (because the only way to get tickets is for $100, and everyone else who has any interest in the matter other than the money is screwed. The people who manage to get tickets are screwed because they're at a show that's at 1/5 capacity. The people who didn't go because of the wildly inflated price (that clearly the market bore) is out of their range. The band has a mediocre show at 1/5 capacity, which means 1/5 as many people going out and telling their friends how awesome it was and that they should buy the band's album and merch.

This is part of why they don't "just raise prices". There's more than one factor involved here. But don't let that get in the way of the typical Slashdot-style "I understand one component of the problem a little bit so I have the obvious solution" commentary.

My captcha: "raving". Of course.

Re:Hrm (4, Informative)

z4ce (67861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294110)

You must never buy tickets from reseller sites. If the scalpers over purchase (and they often do) you can buy the tickets REALLY cheap right before the game/show. If you wait to the last second, you can often find them for 1/5th the list price.

Re:Hrm (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293840)

But the band wants all of their fans to be able to afford tickets. Even if that means they're under-priced. Society has agreed it's not your place to dictate how much the band sells their tickets for.

Re:Hrm (4, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293844)

Ticket scalping happens because the market is demonstrating that tickets are under priced. If someone buys all the tickets up as you say and than tries to sell them there is a maximum price at which he can expect to move the units. This is the price people are willing to pay to see the show. Lets say I purchase all the $15 dollar tickets to see my favorite band. They are not harmed, they sold their entire inventory of tickets at a price they were willing to offer the service of performing for;

Unless, of course, there is an intangible benefit to the band of having people in the audience that cannot afford to pay more than $15 per ticket, but can afford to spend the time it takes to purchase them the moment they go on sale (after closely following the band's announcements to find out exactly when that will be).

Re:Hrm (3, Insightful)

moz25 (262020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293932)

Whoa, that's brilliant! How about you call up the record industry executives to suggest they do just this! Obviously, none of them has ever thought "DUH, how about if WE jack up the prices?!?!?".

Or it might just be that you're not looking at the whole picture and the only value of your analysis is that it demonstrates how a generally valid theory leads to woefully wrong conclusions if boundary conditions aren't taken into account.

Re:Hrm (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34294092)

Bands could charge monopoly rents but don't for other reasons. The reason that the ticket prices are artificially low is the promoters/bands want sell-outs. It generates a better experience for those who attend, a sense of urgency to buy tickets early for future events, and makes venue owners happy (more parking and concessions). Who would want to see a band if you knew that the previous gigs only filled 1/2 the available seats? The only way that promoters can maximize profits is by auctioning all the tickets but, even this process may scare away sales.

The best way I could see to maximize profits is to offer all the tickets at a single price but reduce the price a small amount each day until show day (or sell-out). If you really want the best seats, you buy on the first day at an outrageous price. If your only willing to spend 10 bucks, you may strike-out. This also discourages scalping since all the people willing to spend more than the scalpers have already purchased their tickets. The best the scalpers can do is sell to people who are willing to buy tickets at the same price that the scalpers paid (or to those who weren't really honest to themselves about their true reservation price).

Re:Hrm (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293642)

If the event is under priced then I see nothing wrong with "buying out every ticket you possibly can through whatever means necessary, and then jack the prices up".

If the event is over priced or priced just at what the market thinks is fair, then the scalper gets creamed.

Nobody can afford to buy ALL the tickets, or even ALL the best tickets, and venues have the option of limiting purchases of large blocks of tickets to specific sized and delayed periods of availability to preserve an equal chance for individual buyers.

But realistically, the venue wants butts in seats and they don't care how they get there as long as they get their money.

Re:Hrm (1)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293712)

The problem is, what stops you, as a scalper, from buying out every ticket you possibly can through whatever means necessary, and then jack the prices up?

I'll tell you what. It's called The Market.

If you buy too many tickets, you won't be able to sell them. You might not make money, and you might even lose money. If you you want to accept this transfer of risk, go ahead.

Re:Hrm (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293860)

Sucks to be you. What should happen is the ticket originator should jack their price up until the scalpers profit margins no longer make it worthwhile. There are several means to do this that don't require some jack booted thug to get involved.

Re:Hrm (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293870)

Unfortunately, when I was in Chicago I never saw anything except tickets being available from "brokers" and people that somehow thought they needed to stand in line at 3:00 AM to try to get tickets. The brokers always had a service charge which would jump the face value of the ticket 2 or 3 times but you always knew you could get the tickets without standing in line at 3:00 AM.

I don't believe there is a practical way to get event tickets other than from broker these days. And these folks are just as bad as the folks outside the event trying to sell tickets in terms of cost except the brokers are legal and the folks outside the event aren't.

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293570)

It is simply really, they don't work on Wall Street. Then it is OK.

Re:Hrm (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293574)

When you're a musician and you see what amounts to nothing more than thugs ripping off your fans you might understand better. I'm all for piracy and the end to the sale of digital media simply for the fact that musicians will have to tour more and put on good shows to make their living. But nothing turns fans off more than finding out the shows sold out and having to buy tickets off thugs outside the venue.

Re:Hrm (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293680)

I never pay scalpers - I don't care how much I like an act.

Thugs? When I go online to buy tickets from an automated system as opposed to going to a window and buying tickets from a person - that has to be paid - I'm charged a "convenience fee" and other assorted junk fees that make the airlines look like frick'n amateurs. Actually, I'm not charged because I don't click on accept.

Over the past couple of decades, I've watched ticket prices sky-rocket. A $25 ticket back in the 80s should go for $50 or so inflation adjusted? Nope. They go for well over a hundred. And many of these acts aren't what they used to be, I tell ya. And the new acts? Pffft. The last time I went to a live show, I was very disappointed.

Re:Hrm (1)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293752)

But nothing turns fans off more than finding out the shows sold out and having to buy tickets off thugs outside the venue.

Since the only other option is buying them from the venue-approved thugs (ticketmaster or livenation), I'm not very sympathetic to your point.

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293582)

I'll never understand why "scalping" is illegal in the first place.

To discourage people from manipulating the system.

Most folks would rather not having to contest for tickets, go figure.

Re:Hrm (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293704)

Nothing they did seems unethical or immoral to me.

Not even buying up all available tickets and reselling them at a markup? Inflating the prices to astronomical levels?
Capitalism at work. Legal? Sure should be, in a pure capitalist system, but ethical? Oh hell no.

Re:Hrm (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293716)

Your idea seems to be that ticket sellers should find the sweet-profit-spot between expensive tickets and sales. This will unfortunately mean that concerts will never be sold out. That really sucks for performers who would surely much rather perform to a full audience.

Ticketmaster probably doesn't care, though. I've long thought that Ticketmaster probably likes scalpers, because it shifts the risk of not selling out from them to the scalpers. If they wanted to stop it, they would do it by requiring one credit card number for every five tickets or something. The reason they went after these scalpers is because they saw an opportunity to make money using the legal system. Why not? It's a good business model.

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293836)

Even in a capitalistic society we don't allow monopolies (at least in theory). That's exactly what this is, it's monopolizing a limited resource in order to artificially inflate the price with no recourse for the consumer.

very best seats for Bruce Springsteen concerts (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293380)

That would be at my local bar listening to.. uh I dunno.. Dire Straits on the jukebox..

I guess it's a scam (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293382)

I'm more inclined to think that the ticket prices were set too low to begin if these scalpers are able to find buyers at higher prices. Personally, I'll just watch (or not watch) the stuff on TV.

I think they just really liked springsteen (4, Interesting)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293386)

I think I could spend 2 years in min security prison for 5-10 mil and be happy about it.
Still a pretty good idea they should open a franchise.

Prices are already screwed to hell for these events. I say good for them sorry they got caught.
If they were smart they would have lived in a different country.
I'm just curious but they had to have some serious start up money.
Were they using stolen CC#'s or did they just have countless credit cards?
You would think this would be pretty easy to track down the bank accounts that they use.
Collect who's paying for what and go from there.

Re:I think they just really liked springsteen (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293428)

Prepaid Visa / Mastercards or a card that will give you "one time use" numbers would be two simple ways to sidestep the "follow the money" investigation.

NOTHING WRONG, UNNECESSARY GUILT. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293390)

When the Abortion Clinics are done aborting the foetusii, at night I climb over the fence to grab the offel-bags of dead babies, go back to my delapidated Man-tier mansion to make soap, and I intend to 'splode 5 sky-scrapers full of money-launderers that work for the Goovernment. After selling the dead-baby soap back to the Abortionists, we'll ues the other ingredients for the bombas. Are you in?

-Dyler Turden

Wow, there's a big difference there... (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293414)

Bush administration: Defends corporate interests and their "right" to lock down on a market for maximum profit at the expense of the consumer.

Obama administration: Defends corporate interests and their "right" to lock down on a market for maximum profit at the expense of the consumer.

Holy shit, that is a profound change. I understand know why the people on the extreme right are up in arms over all this socialism.

*NOD* (1)

Purist (716624) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293424)

It is *exactly* like what guys like George Soros and many, many others do...the "wiseguys" decided to create their own unfair advantage without paying off politicians first, though...that just won't do.

Ebay it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293434)

Shouldn't Springsteen and other artists try to maximize their profit? They could have people bid on individual seats or blocks of seats, with a certain reserve price per seat. At some point, the auction ends, and the tickets are awarded to the winning bidders. The remaining tickets could then be discounted or sold at the door.

Forcing people to pay market price for the seats would prevent the gap between supply and demand that scalpers exploit. It would also make artists and booking companies more money, and result in fewer grumpy fans -- sure, they might not get an awesome deal occasionally, but neither would they be prevented from attending a concert they wanted to attend in the seat they were willing to pay for.

Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293452)

CAPTCHA security - more worthless by the day [techworld.com] (23 July 2008)

The article suggests using the Quantum Random Bit Generator Service sign-up [random.irb.hr] approach; you do know your maths through at least calculus ... right?

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293472)

What ever happened to the kitten-captcha? aka, pick out the pictures of cats from a 4x4 grid of pics.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293594)

One issue with that is: the host has a finite set of images stored on the server. To circumvent this, client(s) could run each newly encountered image through a hash algorithm to get its signature and (manually) pair it with "cat" or "other" to populate a look-up table for a given website. This works even if the server randomly names the files. If the server uses the same file names every time then the task is simpler--no hash is required. Things get more complicated if the server randomly toggles bits within the image. Although this can be circumvented by file comparisons.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293842)

Flip a bit, makes hash algorithms worthless but keeps the picture right.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293934)

Not really a solution. Unless the pictures are quite large ( and then you wasting time and bandwidth transferring them) I can easily generate rainbow tables of the hash of each image with each combination of one or two bits flipped. An indexed table will let me match those hashes pretty quickly even with a few million rows. Hell with home systems having 4gigs of ram memory in them it would be easy.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293944)

Read the last two sentences.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294018)

And the programmer will counter it most likely with locality-preserving hashing.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

ovirto (1213596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293972)

Extensive research showed that pictures of kittens turned off potential consumers -- except young females who were too captivated by the pictures of kittens to complete the transaction.

Re:Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293514)

How about giving one of those RSA generator to everyone with access to the internet?

Or since we're talking about cash transactions here, why aren't the credit cards equipped with built-in RSA number generators yet?!

How hard is it to sell tickets right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293508)

Set a "release date" for initial ticket sales
Everyone registers before hand that they want a ticket
There is either a lottery, or high offer gets best ticket.
You could set a minimum price and all extra tickets sell for that after the release date.

Such a better system for high-demand events.

Re:How hard is it to sell tickets right (1)

ragethehotey (1304253) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293566)

This does nothing to solve this type of scheme, as the entire idea is based on putting up as many "chances" as possible to get tickets at the same time. How would this prevent the scalpers from pre-registering?

Buzzwords cloud the issue (5, Informative)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293622)

Language like "hacking" and "scalping" tend to hide the actual crime here.

The ticket purchase/sale is a contract, unlike some of the online transactions that people assume are contracts but are not. (There is a mutual agreement to terms, and consideration is exchanged for something of value.) The people who bought the tickets represented a fictitious identity while entering into a contract. This is a crime of fraud (not "hacking") and because of the electronic nature of the transaction and the intent, it constitute wire fraud.

What I'm wondering is what the threat was that persuaded them to plead guilty.

Re:Buzzwords cloud the issue (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293710)

What I'm wondering is what the threat was that persuaded them to plead guilty.

The original indictment had 43 counts; they plead guilty to just one.

So maybe they simply didn't want to risk having to serve a N-times longer sentence (where N is greater than one and less than 44).

High Frequency Trading (3, Interesting)

Taur0 (1634625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293700)

What's the difference between this and High Frequency Trading? In both cases you're using very fast computers to give you an edge over normal people in buying items that you will then sell a short time later for a higher price to people willing to buy them.

Re:High Frequency Trading (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293894)

Differences being

1. They're using a botnet, not their own servers.

2. They're purchasing the tickets under false identities, which is fraud.

Re:High Frequency Trading (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294076)

They bought them under multiple and false identities to get around the volume limits set per person. Not that different than setting up a dozen LLCs.

Not really a big deal (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293750)

In the grand scheme of things, having to sit 20 rows back instead of 2 is not a big deal. Yea, it offends my self-righteous indignation, but it's not life or death. I don't think prison time is fair for people gaming the system. Our systems are designed for gaming. Our elected officials do it for a living, and what's the punishment? "Censure". On the other hand, I wouldn't protest if the perps were all separated from their reproductive organs by a crazed weasel. I would scalp tickets to that show.

Re:Not really a big deal (1)

ovirto (1213596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293930)

Wait a sec, you're applying the "rules are meant to be broken" defense?

Why was it a scam? (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293966)

Something is for sale, they bought it. Isn't that how it works in capitalism?

Your own network = botnet? (5, Interesting)

xboxilve (1379027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294054)

The 'botnet' these articles are talking about are their own dedicated servers, not virus infections like they are trying to imply. You don't need a botnet to crack captchas, you can use a server to queue up 1000's of captcha images and have third world workers solve them for a tenth of a cent. This entire case is basically just explaining someones business and then inserting and replacing words with ones that have bad connotations to get the public to think that they have solved a crime. Just replace the words 'computer network' with 'botnet', 'revenue' with 'ill-gotten gains', sending a web request with 'impersonating users', and throw in the words fraud, hacking, scheme, and bogus every other word and you can make anything look like organized crime.

Its not rocket science people.. (1)

carigis (1878910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34294056)

They used a bot net to circumvent maximum ticket policies under assumed names ect , thereby commiting fraud on the ticket company. They also used automated means to purchase tickets from a system that is meant to take individual orders on a first come first serve basis.. again fraud. they then turned around and used those fraudulently obtained tickets to resell (tickets they fraudulently recieved) to unsuspecting buyers at an inflated price which they could set because they bought all the tickets fraudulenty. now.. if you can't see what is wrong here.. you've got some issues. Its a straight contract violation, fraud and unjust enrichment case..
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