Scam Artists Sell Over $4 Million in Fake Tickets Every Month

Second-hand ticket retailer viagogo has revealed that scam artists that have been selling fake tickets are collectively reeling in just over $4 million a month, or $49 million a year.

Viagogo found that more than 67,000 fake music festival tickets were sold last year. In 2011, that number could reach 100,000. Most of this scamming occurs during the summer, the most popular season for concerts.

Ticket scams have been occurring for years. When a ticket is nothing but a piece of paper with a barcode that is scanned at the gate, counterfeiting is child’s play. Some events provide wristbands to ticketed attendees, and these wristbands can also be easily faked.

Watermarks and other security features make tickets a bit more difficult to recreate, but these low-tech methods of determining a ticket’s authenticity are often lost on the general public. The victim only realizes the scam when he’s denied entry to an event.

Avoid scalpers, period. Unless you know them personally, just buy tickets at the venue’s window. When purchasing tickets online, stick to legitimate websites. An online search will probably turn up plenty of options, but only buy from familiar, trusted brokers.

Scam artists often take advantage of online ticket companies by buying up blocks of tickets with stolen credit cards, either to counterfeit or simply to overcharge the public.

Fortunately, some ticket brokers have deployed device reputation, which allows them to uncover computers or other devices responsible for fraudulent activity or exhibiting suspicious behavior at the point of sale, and deny transactions from these devices. This kind of visibility gives ticketing services businesses a powerful advantage. More than ever, they can easily identify the scam artists where they’re coming from.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses yet another data breach on Good Morning America. (Disclosures)

Beware of Wedding Crashers This Season

Here is why home security video systems are essential. In the movie “Wedding Crashers” actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson crashed weddings in pursuit of women and wine. Their antics were perceived as relatively harmless because they were two fun guys injecting their lively fun attitudes into the party.

But in the real world a wedding crasher is a thief. They either steal a meal or more than likely steal the newlywed’s gifts.

In one of my past lives between bartending, barroom bouncing, pipefitting and beginning a security business I was a wedding DJ. Never be a wedding DJ if you don’t want to go head to head with a bridezilla and her mother.

At the end of one wedding I worked, the bride and groom along with a few from the wedding party were frantically scouring the room looking for the bag of envelopes. At one point the bride came up to me with her voice raised and accusatorily asked me if I knew where the bag was. Her husband quickly apologized and whisked her away. All I could do is feel bad.

Unfortunately for them the facility had no surveillance cameras and the gifts were located at the opposite side of the room from me and near the entrance/exit. Someone easily walked in and out and ruined and chance achieving a storybook wedding.

Outside of Boston two women were recently caught on video surveillance stealing over $2800.00 and several stolen items from a wedding. Both women dressed for the occasion, mingled, and eventually made their heist. Once the fraud was discovered the couple quickly called security and the police were notified. More than likely the thief’s car was identified on camera leaving the parking lot and the police got a plate number because they were able to go directly to the thieves homes and recover the lost goods.

In this case security video saved the day. In the future it would also make sense to have signage informing potential thieves they are on surveillance. This added layer of protection will stop many thieves.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch. Disclosures.

Preparing a Mobile or PC for Resale or Donation

You may have read my last post where I talked about “Clean the Clutter” out of your life and sell all the stuff you don’t absolutely need. In my Clean the Clutter process I sold 1 Windows XP laptop computer (missing lots of keys), 2 Windows XP desktops and 5 mobile phones all on Craigslist.

Prior to selling my electronics I wiped all the data off of each device. Cleaning all the data off your salable electronics is absolutely essential in our identity theft prone world.

It’s easy.

Reinstall your operating system: The best and quickest want to clean your data is to re-install the operating system. For Windows based PCs insert your operating systems disk and restart the PC. When restarting keep hitting F12 or your PC may want you to hit F2 or F8 and select “boot from CD” and follow the prompts. Most data forensics guys will tell you to reinstall 3 times to really clean it out. Microsoft has more instructions here that just confuses me: or use KillDisk HERE

Clean your Phone: For mobile phones you want to do a factory reset. All software to do this is already on the phone.

Android factory reset: Menu > Settings > Privacy > Factory data reset.

iPhone factory reset: Settings > General > Reset > reset all settings.

Blackberry factory reset: Options > Security Options > General Settings > Menu > Wipe Handheld.

Windows 7 phone factory reset: Settings > About > Reset Phone

Any other operating systems or Symbian based phones you will need to do a search on your phone online such as “Phone Name, Model Number, Carrier, Factory reset”

Remember to remove or wipe any media like SD cards and CD/DVDs too.

Otherwise get a drill and poke lots of holes in the device and its hard drive or hit it with a sledge hammer. This may be lots of fun, however this may make it less saleable.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures.


Taking Responsibility for Personal Security

The local police generally (for the most part) do not prevent burglaries or assaults. But they do (hopefully) arrest those who perpetrate these crimes. Crime prevention goes way beyond installing a home security system or locking your doors or putting your lights on timers.

Personal security and crime prevention begins with you. It starts with taking responsibility for your little corner of the earth whether at home or on the streets and taking decisive action to prevent being victimized.

Civilized conditioning has impeded our ability to take responsibility.

Civilized conditioning is a double edged sword. On one hand it prevents us from being physical with another person unnecessarily, but on the other hand it prevents us from being physical with another person necessarily to protecting ourselves.

You have been taught all of your life not to hurt another human being and that’s a good thing. From birth we are told to be kind to one another and have manners.

This cultural conditioning allows us to get along in a civilized society but it also puts us in a mode where we do nothing to protect ourselves and think it’s the police that should.

You know bad things happen every day. We are all well aware there are some people out there who are considered un-civilized. These are people who don’t share the same boundaries you and I do. As a result we need to take responsibility.

Invest in a home security system: It’s your responsibility to look out for yourself and your family and make sure your home is safe and secure.

Take a self defense class: There are numerous options to learn self defense in books, videos, online and via local classes.

Teach your kids self defense: A child as young as 5 is perfectly capable of absorbing life saving techniques.

Teach responsibility: It’s not enough to rely on a government or others in authority to protect us. We must invest in ourselves and realizes “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source

Role Play Your Way to Personal Security

Home security and home burglary protection is more than just installing a home security system. The best defense includes a great offense and a solid strategy incorporating a well thought out plan.

Outside of Detroit I worked with local law enforcement to conduct a security seminar at a credit union. This was no ordinary “How to Protect Yourself”, this was a mock robbery done as robbery response training. Best part, cops were the robbers.  And they were good, real good.  Five cops who have watched every cops and robber movie including “Dog Day Afternoon” with Al Pacino were tasked with numerous robber roles. Some as simple as strolling into the bank and passing notes all the way to jumping on the banks counters with assault rifles in masks and screaming profanities demanding the credit unions staff to hit the floor.

It was very realistic and some people cried. Pregnant staff wasn’t allowed to participate and many bowed out. This training was not for the faint of heart. Once the robbers left, the participants had to follow through with what the aftermath response would be and bring the event to a closure.

My role was to observe and when completed to rehash the event and elicit a response from each participant. The energy in the aftermath was a mix of excitement, confusion, fear and relief that it was over.  Everyone in attendance was affected by what they went through. Meaning they were emotionally moved by the process.

At the conclusion of the event the mood was gratitude and a sense of empowerment. People were grateful it wasn’t real, but empowered by the experience. Role playing as we did gave insight to what a real life robbery would look like and once the attendees understood the mechanics of it they felt they were better prepared to effectively respond in the event of a real robbery.

While a mock home invasion may not be on your list of “to-dos,” having a discussion with your fellow dwellers about their response should be. Asking “what if” questions and visualizing different scenarios is one step towards an effective response plan.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADTPulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Home Invasion Suspects Don “FBI” Gear

In Buffalo New York WBEN reports  “Buffalo Police are investigating a home invasion at a Sussex Street home. The male victim told police the suspects accosted him, wearing what appeared to be FBI badges and jackets.”

“The victim reported that he was driving down Welker Street at around 8:45 AM, when four or five black males wearing “FBI” gear stopped him, and forced their way into his van. The then made the man drive them back to his house. Once inside, the victim said the suspects tied up and pistol-whipped his wife. They then ransacked the home, and made off with jewelry and possibly other items. Before they left, the suspects shot the male victim in his hand.”

That’s a tough one. In a recent post “Fake Cops Home Invasion — Respecting Vs. Trusting” It is important to respect the position of the title. Everyone deserves some respect until they don’t. But, to blindly trust the person behind the title/uniform/badge etc, can get you hurt.

We live in a society that has many rules. We need rules because without rule, we’d devolve into chaos. Those rules are often broken by those who believe they are above them or are simply so desperate that they need to break them to get their next fix. Some of these rules are more “guidelines” than they are law.

If the homeowner drove straight to the police department because he was concerned for his personal security, regardless of what kind of jacket the perpetrators were wearing, he could have saved himself lots of trouble.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home invasions on the Gordon Elliot Show.

If A Robber Wants Your Money, Give It To Them

When a robber walks in to a place of business the general advice given is to give them what monetary request they make and let them leave. Fighting for materials items is never a good idea. There isn’t a dollar amount one can put on a life or on a box cutter across the face.

But in recent weeks, 2 Boston area store clerks fought off robbers. One man used a pepper spray and a woman used a metal rod. Both situations could have easily gone wrong, but these two clerks decided to fight. Mind you, I’m no pacifist.

The Boston Globe reported “The man leaned over the counter, said “Hi,’’ and, with a knife in his right hand, calmly warned the clerk to stay away from any alarm buttons, according to a surveillance video that captured the encounter. “Give me the money in the register now. No buttons. Put the phone down.’’ Then he turned his head. And that was when the clerk swung a 4-foot, 15-pound iron rod from behind the counter and brought it crashing down on his wrist.

“He had the knife, and I had something prepared, too,’’ she said, holding the rod that knocked the knife from the man’s hand.”


Congratulations to the clerk. It’s always nice to hear when good conquers evil. This situation could have gone very wrong if she missed. History proves when a drugged up animal wants your money, they will often take the money and run.

It is true offering resistance has been proven to stop an attack situation more than 80% of the time. But, I only recommend someone offer resistance when their personal security is at risk. You can argue that this woman’s personal security was at stake, but robbery response 101 is to give the money up and let them leave. If they want your money, wallet, purse, just toss it in one direction and run screaming on the other.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Home Security on NBC Boston.

Personal Security Signage Adds Layers Of Protection

Recently I had the pleasure of working with a journalist in the Boston area who is also a family man. We did a story on home security and the different options consumers have to protect themselves. I see him on TV all the time reporting on issues of crime, violence and death. Unquestionably he is on the front lines of what’s happening in our world.

In the course of our interaction we discussed many different aspects of personal security, all stuff he knows better than most.  When doing a story like this the journalist asks questions so the answerers will benefit the audience, but like many others personal security isn’t his vocation so some questions he really wanted to know the answers to.

It always surprises me that some people don’t know what I know, even if they deal with blood guts on a daily basis.

Anyway at one point we were discussing “layers of protection” and the subject of “signage” came up. I’ve always believed the more layers you put in place the more secure you’ll be. Signage is one small deterrent that can make a big difference. A sign saying your home is alarmed is one layer. Another saying “Beware of Dog” defiantly puts doubt in the mind of a bad guy.

He asked me if that really is a deterrent and I used a simple example like a NO PARKING sign. If you see a no parking sign, you are much less likely to park there because you fear of a ticket. If a bad guy sees an alarm sign, he may fear getting caught or when a “Beware of Dog” sign is posted, he may fear getting bit.

Depending on the dog, getting bit by a dog is worse than getting arrested. It’s all about layers.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing self defense on Fox Boston.

What Security Issues Should You Worry About?

First thing I tell my seminar attendees is “The chances of anything bad ever happening to you is very slim. So don’t worry about. However you should still put these systems in place.”

Are you a helicopter parent? An “alarmist”? Or Chicken Little: The sky is falling, the sky is falling! I heard somewhere along the line that 90% of what we worry about never happens. It might be even closer to 99%. But there is still that one percent that concerns.

Deciding what to worry about may be a conscious or unconscious (or sub-conscious) decision.

Often what we worry about comes from what we see and are fed in the media. It is well known that the nightly news is built on the premise “If it bleeds it leads”. Blood and guts is what sells airtime and newspapers.

These worries when confronted are often dumbed down by statisticians, researchers, some security professionals, social psychologists and are called “baseless paranoid fears”. Books written in this regard are designed to give perspective. My feeling is they are written simply to sell a contrarian idea to stimulate conversation (and sell books) and in reality the author is no less of a “worrier” than anyone else.

Perspective is good. Too much “worry” can have ill health affects and significantly detract from quality of life.

My gripe with the “Don’t worry, it’s a 1 in 10 million chance” mentality is that it fosters the “It can’t happen to me” syndrome which prevents people from taking responsibility for their security in the first place.

If you knew the statistical probability of the chances of your kid being shot at school or your child being kidnapped or even being struck by lightning and all were “slim”, would you take any less precaution to protect yourself or your family?

Would you stand next to a metal pole in a lightning storm? Would you drive without a seatbelt? Would you allow your 7 year old who is perfectly capable of navigating their way to school go by themselves even though the chance of them being kidnapped is extremely slim?

For many of the issues we worry about the chances of them happening might be 1 in a 100,000 or 1 in 10 million. Your chances of something bad happening may equate to the same statistics as winning the lottery, which is very slim, but you still might play the number.

Does it really matter what the odds are?

Every day someone somewhere wins the lottery. Every day someone somewhere is a victim of a heinous crime.

Knowing what I know I’m concerned about it all and I take the necessary steps to prevent what’s in my control. Do I worry?  Well, a part of my life’s energy goes into putting measures in place to prevent “bad”. If being proactive and taking responsibility is “worry” then yes. And I feel safe, secure and grounded without any nagging “paranoid” angst that detracts from the quality of life.

What’s so wrong with that?

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.

Just One Day in the Boston Globe

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder how we have managed to get this far as a species. Scanning today’s paper I couldn’t help but notice the total mayhem that makes up one day of news. I bring this to your attention not to sensationalize or provide the “bad news” but to make you grateful for what you have and hopefully motivate you to go out and do something positive to help your community. It also might make you think twice about your personal safety.

October 6th 2010:

Hundreds mourn victim of Mattapan shootings

Simba Martin’s family huddled around his shiny, pewter-colored casket yesterday morning, their cries of grief filling the small red-brick church on Highland Street. Near the altar, a female relative shouted “why’’ repeatedly as she slumped in the embrace of a family member.

Death of Vt. woman is called a homicide

WATERBURY, Vt. — A body found in the woods Sunday by two bird hunters has been identified as that of a missing 78-year-old woman, and police called it a homicide yesterday.

Judge sets rules for N.H. slaying trial

CONCORD, N.H. — Three men who have acknowledged their roles in a deadly home invasion in which a woman and her daughter were stabbed and slashed dozens of times will be allowed to testify about the plot leading up it, a judge says.

Onetime serial arson suspect accused of setting office on fire

PLYMOUTH — A Brockton man who decades ago was a prime suspect in the torching of dozens of churches, VFW posts, and other buildings in the area south of Boston was accused yesterday of setting fire to a federal probation office Monday night.

Man allegedly stole more items from grandmother after theft

A Braintree grandmother’s house was robbed Monday afternoon, and police said that as they arrived to investigate, the victim’s grandson stole more items and tried to have a friend pawn them while blaming it on the original burglar.

1 student robbed, 1 nearly abducted

One Bay State College student was robbed and another was the victim of an attempted abduction in two separate incidents yesterday afternoon, police said. Boston police spokesman David Estrada said that at about 2:30 p.m. an 18-year-old student was walking out of a Subway restaurant on St. James Street when he was robbed by a man armed with a knife.

Man ordered held in statutory rape case

A 31-year-old Tewksbury man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in August after sending her sexually charged text messages for a month pleaded not guilty yesterday, officials said.

Man sentenced for trying to lure teen

A Dorchester man already convicted of sex offenses against children was sentenced to up to five years in state prison and 10 years’ probation Monday for attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl who was on her way to school in 2009

Man convicted of killing three in 2007 Conn. home invasion

NEW HAVEN — A paroled burglar was convicted yesterday of killing a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion in an affluent Connecticut town and now could be sentenced to death.

Wow. Nuts! It can be a mad, mad, mad world sometimes. But being kind to someone takes less effort than being evil. Choose wisely. And please, think about home security and what systems need to be in place to protect your family.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams. Disclosures