In the world of event ticketing, a hidden battle constantly rages – one between ticket scalpers and those trying to purchase tickets at face value. While most of us are familiar with the frustration of sold-out events and skyrocketing secondary market prices, few understand the intricacies of: “How do ticket scalpers get tickets before fans?”.

This guide delves deep into the tactics and strategies that ticket scalpers employ to get their hands on tickets, often long before the average consumer even has a chance. 

In previous guides, we covered the legality of ticket scalping, the top ticket reselling tips, mistakes ticket resellers do, platforms you can use as alternatives to ticketmaster, Ticketmaster waiting room tips, ticketmaster fees, ticket platforms with the lowest reseller fees, best time to resell tickets, reselling tickets on AXS, and listing tickets on multiple platforms at the same time. And today is a new guide! Ready?

How Do Ticket Scalpers Get Tickets?

From the digital prowess of using sophisticated bots and ticketing proxies to the old-school methods of physical box office purchases, this guide uncovers the multifaceted approaches scalpers use.

We’ll explore the world of online presales and special access, where scalpers leverage fan clubs and credit card presales to their advantage. The use of automated software, known as bots, receives a special focus, revealing how these tools help scalpers bypass security measures and purchase limits.

We’ll also shed light on less-discussed strategies such as exploiting platform vulnerabilities, engaging in secondary market acquisitions, and even colluding with insiders. 

1. Online Presales and Special Access

The ticket scalping business is a complex world in which scalpers devise ingenious strategies to procure event tickets that they can resell at a profit. Their innovative solutions include online presales and special access as acquisition strategies.

A. Fan Club Presales 

Fan club presales are a favorite tactic used by ticket scalpers. These are special sales offered to members of an artist or event’s official fan club, often before tickets become available to the general public. Scalpers either join these fan clubs themselves or manipulate the process by creating multiple accounts to gain access to more tickets. 

“Fan Club Presales are an ideal opportunity for scalpers to buy tickets in advance of a general sale, often under guise of being a dedicated fan.”

B. Credit Card Presales 

The next strategy in the scalper’s arsenal involves exploiting credit card offers. Many credit card companies partner with event organizers or ticket platforms to offer their cardholders early access to tickets. Scalpers with access to multiple credit cards capitalizes on these presales, therefore securing a large batch of tickets before general release. 

C. Scalper Networks 

For those who go deeper into the business, forming a network with other scalpers becomes beneficial. With more people comes more purchasing power. This, combined with using multiple devices and accounts, allows them to bypass ticket purchasing limits and stockpile a significant number of tickets to popular events. Scalpers use communication tools such as messaging apps and forums to form these networks and discuss strategies. 

Intriguing, isn’t it? However, do note that these tactics walk a fine line between strategic purchasing and illegal behavior, and are often seen as unfair to genuine fans who miss out. Be sure to stick around to learn about an even sneakier technique – bots and automated software! Stay tuned!

2. Bots and Automated Software

Bots, or automated software programs, with ticket proxies as a main helper play a pivotal role. These bots, designed to mimic human buying patterns, can purchase tickets at speeds unattainable by a regular consumer. There are several types of bots that scalpers commonly use:

  • Spinner Bots: These are the most prevalent. They constantly refresh ticketing pages the moment tickets go on sale, quickly selecting and purchasing the best available seats.
  • Drop Checker Bots: These specialize in monitoring sold-out events. If any tickets get released back into the market, these bots immediately snatch them up.
  • Exploit Bots: These utilize known website vulnerabilities, allowing them to bypass queues or security checks.

The Mechanism of Scalping Bots

Understanding how these bots operate reveals why they are so effective:

  • Speed: Bots can complete ticket purchase transactions in milliseconds.
  • Volume: They can operate multiple transactions simultaneously, buying large quantities of tickets.
  • Circumvention Techniques: Bots often bypass CAPTCHA tests and evade detection by mimicking human behavior, like randomizing click patterns or using multiple IP addresses provided by a proxy pool.
A computer monitor with a broken padlock icon on the display. The padlock is cracked open, symbolizing a security breach.

3. Exploiting Platform Vulnerabilities

Exploiting platform vulnerabilities stands as a key strategy scalpers use. Scalpers adeptly navigate and manipulate online ticketing systems, uncovering and leveraging weaknesses to gain unfair access to tickets. 

A. Exploiting website flaws

Scalpers often exploit weaknesses in ticket platforms to gain an unfair advantage. They meticulously analyze websites for flaws that can be manipulated. Common vulnerabilities include:

  • Session Hijacking: Scalpers intercept user sessions to gain unauthorized access to tickets.
  • Inadequate Security Measures: Some sites may lack robust anti-bot protections or have weak authentication processes, which scalpers exploit to buy tickets en masse.
  • Payment Process Exploits: By manipulating the payment gateway, scalpers can hold tickets in their cart beyond the usual time limit, blocking other buyers.

B. Exploiting Pre-Sale Loopholes

Pre-sales offer a prime opportunity for scalpers to secure tickets before the general public. They use various techniques to access these tickets, often without the required credentials:

  • Code Sharing and Theft: Scalpers share or steal pre-sale codes, gaining access to tickets meant for specific groups like fan clubs or credit card holders.
  • Fake Accounts and Identities: Creating multiple accounts or using fake identities, scalpers can pose as eligible buyers to access pre-sale tickets.
  • Network Infiltration: By infiltrating networks or forums where codes are shared, scalpers gather multiple codes, increasing their chances of securing tickets.

4. Offline Scalping Strategies

Scalpers do not only operate online. They are active offline too. Here is how they operate offline to get tickets before fans:

A. Physical Box Office Purchases

While online methods dominate, some scalpers still employ traditional offline tactics like buying tickets in person. Strategies include:

  • Early Arrival and Queue Domination: Scalpers often arrive hours before the box office opens to secure a spot at the front of the line.
  • Bulk Buying Teams: Scalpers sometimes use teams to buy the maximum number of tickets allowed per person, maximizing their haul.
  • Repeat Visits: By visiting the box office multiple times (often in disguise), scalpers circumvent per-person ticket limits.

B. Collusion with Insiders (Backdooring)

Collaboration with venue or box office staff offers another offline strategy:

  • Bribing Employees: Some scalpers bribe insiders for early access to tickets or inside information on sales.
  • Networking with Insiders: Building relationships with venue staff can lead to tips on ticket releases or even direct purchases from insiders.
A 3D illustration of a gold coin in the center of a blue background

5. Secondary Market Acquisitions

The secondary market, where tickets are resold often at higher prices, is not just a place  for frustrated fans seeking last-minute access but also a strategic playground for scalpers.

A. Buying from Other Scalpers

Scalpers often buy tickets from their peers in the scalping community:

  • Scalper Networks: By networking within the community, scalpers exchange information and purchase tickets from one another.
  • Bulk Purchase Discounts: Scalpers may offer or receive discounts for bulk purchases, ensuring a steady supply of tickets.

B. Exploiting Fan Resales

Scalpers also target fan-resale platforms to acquire and resell tickets:

  • Monitoring Resale Sites: Scalpers use software to monitor resale platforms for underpriced tickets, which they buy and resell at higher prices.
  • Emotional Pricing: Scalpers exploit situations where fans urgently need to sell tickets, often buying at lower prices and reselling for profit.

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