How California hackers grabbed Ticketmaster's best online tickets

>> Thursday, March 04, 2010

The California hackers charged with snapping up Ticketmaster's best online tickets pleaded not guilty Tuesday, insisting they are just extra-efficient scalpers........

The arraignment of Kenneth Lowson, Joel Stevenson, and Kristofer Kirsch earlier this week.
"These guys are ticket brokers to ticket brokers," said Mark Rush, lawyer for Wiseguy Tickets owner Kenneth Lowson.
Rush said the massive scheme to shut out ordinary fans and corner the market on prime concert seats that prosecutors outlined in a 43-count indictment Monday was more ingenious than illegal.
"The government's case is that there is an intangible right for Ticketmaster to sell tickets the way they want to sell tickets," Rush said, arguing there is no such right.
He compared it to virtually spending the night on line to get a jump on sales. Fans going to see Jay-Z at Madison Square Garden last night called that baloney.
"I have no shame sleeping outside if I want tickets," said Julie Robinson, 24, of Long Beach, L.I. "But now I can't even do that. Even when they tell you tickets are available, they aren't."
She was going in with a friend who had paid a reseller $149 for $69 tickets.
Lowson and three henchmen were charged with using computer tricks to bypass Ticketmaster's efforts to ensure that fans - not resellers - get the tickets.
To check that a buyer is human, not a machine, and to limit the number of tickets one person can buy, the "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart" - or CAPTCHA - asks buyers to retype a distorted word.
The defendants figured out a way to automate CAPTCHA, allowing them to complete a blizzard of purchases in seconds and beat fans to good seats, the feds said.
They made $29 million reselling 1.5 million prime tickets to ticket brokers, sometimes at $1,000 markups, prosecutors said.
"Fans knew that there was something fishy about tickets for events selling out, and then - minutes later - seats being made available for a sizable markup," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who has urged curbs on ticket brokers.
Two of the four, Kristofer Kirsch and Joel Stevenson, were out on bail. Lowson, who may be a flight risk because he has millions in an offshore account, has a separate bail hearing today. The fourth, Faisal Nahdi, was negotiating his surrender from Indonesia.
"They need to do Bernie Madoff time!" said Jay-Z fan Angela McConico, 43, of Harlem.

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