Three operators of Wiseguys Tickets, Inc., who used computer programs to outmaneuver the online ticketing control systems of some of the largest concert and special events vendors in the country, were sentenced to probation in the scam during a Thursday hearing in federal court in Newark.
The company swamped ticket selling sites within seconds of events going on sale, then resold the raft of premium tickets they had purchased at a markup, prosecutors said. The scheme involved 1.5 million tickets between 2002 and 2009, according to court files.
Kenneth Lowson, 41, and Kristofer Kirsch, 38, both of Los Angeles, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and exceed authorized access to computers engaged in interstate commerce. They each were sentenced to two years probation and 300 hours of community service on the felony counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey.
Lowson also was ordered to forfeit a little over $1 million.
Joel Stevenson, 38, of Alameda, Calif., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of exceeding authorized access to computers engaged in interstate commerce and was sentenced to one year of probation.
Faisal Nahdi, an alleged conspirator in the scheme, remains at large.
From Hannah Montana to Wrestlemania nationally -- and from a Redskins game to a Phish concert in Virginia locally -- the Wiseguys company got the best seats in the house. They used computer programs that could automatically decode those squiggly word prompts in microseconds and rapidly fill in credit card information in violation of the terms that the event vendors had in place for ticket buys, prosecutors said.
The Wiseguys operation sometimes posed as members of fans clubs to get first shot at concerts and targeted seats set aside for the visually impaired because those were closest to stages, prosecutors have said previously.
Lowson and Kirsch owned Wiseguys and directed the company operations. Stevenson was the company’s’ chief U.S.-based programmer. The company also hired programmers in Bulgaria to help design systems to outwit online ticket vendors including Ticketmaster, LiveNation, Telecharge, Tickets.com and others sellers.