All Imogen Hollings wanted was to attend the music festival Groovin the Moo with her friends. Tickets for the nationwide event sold out quickly, but the 17-year-old student from Canberra found a steal on the trading platform Gumtree.
Among the myriad tickets being resold for $250 – more than
double the $115 retail price – was one selling for a little less, at $180.
She decided to contact the seller, a guy who went by the name Andrew
"I messaged him and he replied to me through email," says Hollings.
"We started talking, negotiated a price and it was oh-so-normal."
The deal seemed harmless and routine-like; a typical conversation between
someone who wanted to go to a concert and another who had a ticket, but no
"And then he asked me: 'Do you know how to use Cardless Cash?'," Hollings
Cardless Cash is a feature launched two years ago by the big banks that
makes it possible to withdraw money from an ATM without the need for a bank
Simply nominate an amount and an ATM machine from the smartphone app, and
the bank will send a code to be used in place of a traditional card.
Some banks go one further by sending the codes to friends and family,
sharing with them the virtual equivalent of an ATM card, so that they can
conveniently withdraw money.
The codes issued by Cardless Cash quickly expire, usually within an hour.
The entire transaction – from negotiating a price, to Terumo withdrawing
the $180 using Cardless Cash – took no longer than two hours.
For her part, Hollings received an email containing a digital ticket,
complete with a barcode, an order number and some of her details – just
enough to make the forgery appear authentic.
But she wouldn't find out the ticket was a fake until the first week of May
– almost three months later.
"My friend printed off her ticket and straight away I noticed my ticket was
really blurry," she says.
"So I emailed him and asked if I could have the original ticket, but he
didn't reply. I tried to call him, but the number was disconnected."
A Google search revealed a Gumtree listing warning people not to buy
tickets from a scammer operating under the name (and email address) of
Andrew Terumo. The posting, which has since been deleted, alleges the
scammer's real name is Muhammad Zammy.
It is not the only posting telling a story of eager concertgoers being
Ticketmaster Resale, a third-party site where people can resell tickets,
will hold the funds of an electronic transaction until an order is
'satisfied', the aim of which is to thwart ticket fraud.
But by using Cardless Cash, scammers are working around the system, quickly
completing a transaction and then running.
CHOICE recently investigated the issue of ticket fraud on third-party
sites. Concertgoers can best protect themselves by buying tickets from
official sites, says Tom Godfrey, the head of media at CHOICE.
"Unfortunately, stories of fans being left out of pocket having purchased
fake tickets on these sites are all too common.
"But this latest Cardless Cash scam is particularly concerning as it
navigates around any existing online payment protections, such as held
payments or chargebacks."
Commonwealth Bank was first to offer Cardless Cash in Australia. A company
representative tells CHOICE the feature "should only be used when the
customer implicitly trusts the person they are sending the cash to".
Hollings is trying to get her money back, but the odds are stacked against
"I sent an email to [ticket providers] Moshtix, the ACCC and Gumtree as
well," she says. "Gumtree says they're following up the issue, but I
haven't gotten a response yet."