Ed Sheeran’s team celebrates as £6.5 million ticket tout swindlers found guilty | Music | Entertainment

Mark Woods and Lynda Chenery have been found guilty of fraudulent trading concerning ticket touting in connection with Wood’s wife’s company, the Norfolk-based TQ Tickets Ltd. The guilty verdict was read out at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday.

Maria Chenery-Woods, 54, and Paul Douglas, 56, also admitted the same offences.

Chenery-Woods, who would refer to herself as the Ticket Queen and also happens to be Lynda Chenery’s sister and Mark Woods’s ex-wife, ran the swindling company which used multiple identities to purchase large amounts of tickets on trustworthy sites like Ticketmaster. They would then list them for more money on secondary ticket-selling websites such as Viagogo.

Many of the tickets bought were for extremely high-profile acts including Ed Sheeran and Little Mix, and the company made sales over £6.5 million.

Both Woods and Chenery claim to have been unaware of the level of fraud going on at the company they worked for, with Woods stating “I knew Maria was running a ticket and travel company, I knew she was involved in that market. I was perfectly satisfied that there was nothing untoward about what she was doing”

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford KC said, “They were part of a dishonest scheme that, over several years, exploited the love and passion that many of us have for our favourite pop bands, our favourite artists – people like Ed Sheeran, and so forth.”

He stated that TQ tickets would send customers ripped envelopes to make it look like the tickets had been lost in transit, or they would use Tipp-Ex to tamper with them. As a result, fans would often be turned away from venues because they didn’t have a valid ticket, leaving a large number of innocent music fans deeply upset and disappointed, not to mention out of pocket.

It is thought that the company purchased 47,000 tickets during that period, using 127 names and 187 different email addresses.

Shockingly, in one message Douglas said to business owner Chenery-Woods that the whole purpose of TQ Tickets was to “simply rinse consumers for as much profit as they are willing to pay”. These kinds of details shine a light on just how cold the fraudsters were about what they were doing.

Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp and promoter Stuart Galbraith gave statements at the trial. They explained how they used “extensive measures” to try and prevent ticket touting and how the greedy touts had also taken money from a charity in the process.

Mr Camp said: “Ed Sheeran’s 2018 summer stadium tour was when we really took a stand against online ticket touts. The low point for me had been one of his earlier Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, where tickets were listed on Viagogo for thousands of pounds, but none of the money went to charity.

“Today’s prosecution will help protect music fans and sets an important precedent in the live entertainment industry that I hope will be celebrated by live music fans.”

The four defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

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