Sports and entertainment fans have been cheated out of nearly £1.3 million over the last six months, figures from Action Fraud have revealed.
Nearly 3,000 cases of ticket fraud were reported, relating to events such as concerts by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters and One Direction, as well as festivals and the Rugby World Cup.
In some cases, tickets never turned up; in others, they were fakes that were refused at the gate, or simply didn't match the description. The average loss was £205.
Many fake tickets came from two companies in particular: Circle Tickets and GetSporting.com. Both have now had their websites taken down by the National Fraud Investigation Bureau, and been referred for investigation.
"Buying tickets for major entertainment events takes a lot of planning and organisation and can cost a lot of money," says detective chief inspector Andy Fyfe of the City of London Police and Action Fraud.
"So when people discover they have fallen victim to a fraud – be it through purchasing tickets that either don't exist or turn out to be counterfeit – it can be a devastating experience."
Summer is the peak season for ticket fraud, but the Christmas period can be particularly hazardous too - so purchasers are advised to take special care.
"The key to making sure you don't fall victim to this crime is to only use authorised sellers and if you have any doubts about the website check out the reviews online," says Fyfe.
"And when it comes to making a purchase, always use a payment card and never transfer the funds directly into another bank account."
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star) is urging people to be on their guard and stick to sellers displaying the Star kitemark or logo.
"This level of ticket fraud shows that as an industry we have to come together to help ticket buyers avoid ticket sellers who deliberately set out to defraud them," says Rob Edwards, managing director of ticketing company Eventim.
"We are a proud member of Star and believe the best advice for customers is to only buy tickets from companies that display the Star kitemark, a symbol of trust that shows the company has signed up to the Star Code of Practice."
Under the scheme, buyers will be given a refund if the event doesn't go ahead as planned, and will have an independent means of redress if anything goes wrong.