Reading And Leeds Festival organiser warns fans against ticket and wristband scam

Melvin Benn says electronic scanning systems will be introduced to combat touts

Reading And Leeds Festival organiser Melvin Benn has told NME.COM that fans risk being ripped off twice in one go by the same set of touts at UK music festivals this summer.

Benn chaired a conference aiming to wipe out crime in live music in Reading in January, and in an NME.COM report on counterfeit festival tickets, he revealed that the schemes currently being used by touts are much more devious than previously thought.

“The crooks are getting better,” Benn said, before explaining that the same touts are trying to rip fans off firstly via bogus ticketing websites (which knowingly sell fake tickets), and then for a second time outside the festival gates when the same fans have been refused entry.

Reg Walker of festival security firm The Iridium Consultancy called the touts “particularly nasty” and explained more about how they rip fans off.

“This is extremely clever, organised crime. It isn’t just a few Arthur Daley spivs outside a venue,” Walker said. “They produce counterfeit wristbands and have touts outside the venues knowing that they’re going to get several hundred people [who unwittingly bought fake tickets online] turning up who won’t get in, but who are going to be looking for a way to get in. So then they have a second bite of the cherry.”

Benn added that he hopes to get every major UK festival to introduce electronic scanning systems for “barcoded” wristbands by 2013 to help wipe out the problem, while Chief Superintendent Andy Battle, who is Leeds Festival‘s Police Commander, said the force will be “proactively looking for touts” at this year’s festival.

Read the full report on the festival ticketing and wristband scam by heading to NME’s Office Blog now.