“It’s going to be one of the handful of events that would be one of the most
heavily targeted ever,” he told The Telegraph.
“The amount to be made would certainly be seven figures. These people don’t
get out of bed for peanuts.”
The nightmare scenario was made possible after the Government refused to ban
the resale of tickets for the tournament, despite repeated warnings from
England 2015’s chief executive, Debbie Jevans, and the police.
Both experienced first-hand the impact of such a ban while working on the
London Olympics and Paralympics and are now in a desperate fight to prevent
the Rugby World Cup being exploited by criminal networks.
“Of course I’m concerned that touts are potentially going to be able to buy up
the reasonably-priced tickets and then on-sell them,” Jevans said.
Commander Stephen Head, the National Police Coordinator for Economic Crime at
City of London Police, added: “These touts can put in a different kind of
scale of applications, so they can make multiple, multiple applications
Measures have been put in place in order to combat this threat, with Jevans
and Head working together to catch those illegally using multiple identities
to buy more than the four tickets per match to which each applicant is meant
to be limited.
Holding a ballot for oversubscribed games is one such measure but Walker, who
is operations director of the Iridium Consultancy and has helped tackle
ticket fraud at the O2 Arena, said of the touts: “What they will simply do
is flood the ballots.”
Applications made during the general sale window between Friday and Sept 29
will also be vetted to weed out those from the same IP addresses.
Walker said: “These people have so many identities, so many addresses, so many
proxy IDs around the world. It is physically impossible to stop harvesting.”
Head denied it was “impossible”, vowing to do everything to “mitigate the
risk”, adding: “It is in no one’s interest for these gangs to succeed.”
The Rugby World Cup’s ticketing platform will be run by Ticketmaster, whose
managing director, Simon Presswell, admitted it was in a “virtual arms race”
He added: “We are able to identify the IP addresses, monitor any unusual
activity or behaviour and then de-duplicate any applications that we believe
to have been made fraudulently.”
Jevans warned that anyone buying a ticket other than through England 2015’s
official channels faced being refused entry to matches.
How practical that is to enforce at a tournament for which 2.3 million tickets
are expected to be sold remains to be seen.
Head said: “When you buy from these secondary sites in this instance, you will
potentially be supporting other aspects of criminality, so search your
“You may also be throwing away huge amounts of money and you may still not get
to see the game.”
Jevans pointed out that was the fate that befell the parents of Rebecca
Adlington at the 2008 Olympics, when they bought second-hand tickets for
their daughter’s double gold medal-winning performance only to arrive in
Beijing and find they did not exist.
The England 2015 chief refused to play the “blame game” over Rugby World Cup
fans being left similarly vulnerable, something that dates back to the
International Rugby Board’s failure to make a ban on resale a precondition
of hosting the tournament.
“We respect the fact that we did not get legislation,” she added.
The shadow sports minister, Clive Efford, who lobbied for such a ban, said:
“It is a disgrace that the Government has refused to act.
“Preventing genuine fans being exploited must be a primary concern for all
major events hosted in the UK.”
The sports minister, Helen Grant, said: “We have confidence in the plans that
England Rugby 2015 and Ticketmaster have put in place to ensure that tickets
end up in the hands of genuine fans for the Rugby World Cup.
“Many major events are held in this country successfully using similar
measures and technology and we are sure the tournament will be a great
success that will grow rugby at home and abroad.”
IRB president Bernard Lapasset added: “It is our objective to ensure that fans
from around the world have a wonderful Rugby World Cup experience.
“We are aware that unofficial sources will attempt to exploit fans and we have
been working in full collaboration with ER 2015 and the appropriate
authorities to deliver a proactive programme that focuses on education,
prevention and monitoring.
“Our message to fans is clear – buy from official channels only and visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/buyofficial
to verify sources.”
to apply for Rugby World Cup 2015 tickets
World Cup tickets: Everything you need to know
– RWC: Nine games to apply for in the ballot
to beat the ticket touts
World Cup 2015 venues
World Cup 2015 full fixtures list and match schedule
Greenwood: RWC 2015 is once-in-a-lifetime for fans