Friendly bank tech being used by ticket scammers for a quick getaway

Concertgoers pay a heavy premium for resold tickets and often end up being ripped off.

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 Terumo.

"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 longer could.

"And then he asked me: 'Do you know how to use Cardless Cash?'," Hollings tells CHOICE.

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 card.

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."

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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 scammed.

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 her.

"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."