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Jail For Ticket Scammer

by msecadm4921

A man was on May 6 sentenced to a total of three years imprisonment for selling tickets to the Leeds Music Festival that didn’t exist.

Christopher Bundza (45) from Goosefield Rise in Garforth, Leeds was found guilty of 17 fraud and money laundering charges following a five day trial at Leeds Crown Court earlier this year.

He was sentenced to a combined total of three years imprisonment after admitting to a further two fraud charges. The court heard that he sold tickets to the 2008 Leeds Festival via a number of eBay accounts and through his own website.

Analysis of two eBay accounts traced to Bundza showed that he sold 117 pairs of Leeds Festival full weekend camping tickets for a total in excess of £46,000.

During the two year investigation, police also uncovered that he sold over £7,000 of tickets for the 2008 T in the Park Festival, which takes place in Perth and Kinross, Scotland as well as over £3,000 of tickets for the 2008 V Festival in Chelmsford, Essex.

Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, police took 17 complaints over Bundza selling tickets that never existed to trial but the true total of those defrauded by Bundza is thought to run into the hundreds. Officers believe that in excess of £50,000 has been generated through his criminal activity.

Police first became aware of him when officers were called after Bundza failed to meet a number of people at the Holiday Inn in Garforth to hand over tickets to the Leeds Festival on the opening day in 2008.

His conviction is believed to be only the second time a person in the UK has been convicted in association with so-called ‘speculative selling’ which is the practice of offering tickets for sale that the vendor does not actually posses to sell on.

With tickets to most of the summer festivals available through a number of websites, police are warning music fans to be aware of unscrupulous individuals trying to make money on the back of people wanting to see their favourite bands and performers live.

Figures from the Office of Fair Trading suggest that more than 5,000 people were scammed when buying tickets for the top summer festivals during 2009. Organisers of some of the country’s largest music festivals including: Reading and Leeds, V, Download and Wireless, contributed to the findings by compiling complaints they had received from those who had bought tickets online and not received them, or who bought fake tickets and were turned away at the gates.

Natalie McRae (18) a university student from Ormskirk in Lancashire paid £745 pounds for four tickets for her and three friends to attend the 2008 Leeds Festival. Despite promising to deliver tickets up until the start of the festival or provide a refund Bundza never did either.

Speaking after his conviction Natalie said: "The whole thing was annoying and upsetting, I’m still furious with him.

"The £745 was part of my life savings that I was planning to use for my university fees. Because of what happened I’ve had to stay at home during my first year and it’s ruined my friendships with those I promised to go to the festival with.

"He is just nasty and selfish."

Detective Constable, Carly North from North East Leeds CID and who led the investigation, said of the case: "Today’s sentence reflects the way Bundza callously lied and deceived a number of people both through the sale of tickets to Leeds Festival that he never had in the first place to obtaining personal financial credit.

"In particular I hope today’s sentence brings a sense of justice to the many people who paid Bundza money for festival tickets and were given false promise after false promise and led on until the very last minute. This left many out of pocket and with no time to make alternative arrangements to see one of the big summer music festivals."

"For anyone considering buying festival tickets online I would ask them to stick to the relevant festival’s authorised ticket agents, which you can see on the festival’s official website, and pay for them with a credit card. This gives you some protection and the possibility of your money back if things go wrong."

Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, who run the Reading and Leeds Festivals, said: "Festival Republic is proactive in its endeavours to protect its potential customers from buying tickets from unauthorised sources and we give full support to the police in their investigations. We are pleased that this case in relation to the speculative sale of 2008 Leeds Festival tickets has been successful."

To avoid becoming a victim – stick to the following advice:

* How has the website or auction site seller got the tickets
* Check with the festival organisers when they are releasing tickets for sale, when they’re sent out and who are their authorised ticket agents
* Check internet search engines to see what other are saying about the website
* How do you contact the company or individual selling the tickets
* Do you have their full postal address and a working landline number
* Can they provide ticket details. Check to see if the face value, festival area of the tickets are clearly listed and this is consistent with the official festival website
* Check to see what their refund policy in case something goes wrong
* Pay for tickets by credit card. Under the Consumer Credit Act your card issuer is jointly liable for the failure to provide goods or services if the cash price of a single ticket is over £100.

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