Great Neck-based ticket brokers required to pay millions for alleged violations

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Great Neck-based ticket brokers reportedly owe millions in settlements for allegedly up-charging customers and reselling tickets to events. (Photo from The Island Now archives)

The Department of Justice reported on Friday that three Great Neck-based ticket brokers are required to pay millions of dollars in settlements that resolve alleged violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales Act.

According to the complaints filed by the United States in the Eastern District of New York, three Great Neck-based brokers allegedly gained millions of dollars in revenue from purchasing thousands of tickets from Ticketmaster and reselling them at “significant markups.” Since 2017, according to the report, the brokers collectively purchased more than 155,000 tickets, which generated more than $26 million in revenue.

The brokers also allegedly used online bots to circumvent tests to prevent nonhuman visitors on websites and used various programs to hide the IP addresses from the computers used to make transactions.

The report said the alleged acts were the first violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which was enacted in 2016. The act, according to the report, prevents ticket brokers from buying a mass amount of tickets online and reselling them at an inflated price.

The three brokers, which allegedly shared the same address on 747 Middle Neck Road according to the report, were listed as Just In Time Tickets Inc. and owner Evan Kohanian, Concert Specials Inc. and owner Steven Ebrani, and Cartisim Corp. and owner Simon Ebrani.  Efforts to reach the owners or a representative from their companies for comment were unavailing.

“Those who violate the BOTS Act cheat fans by forcing them to pay inflated prices to attend concerts, theater performances, and sporting events,” acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said.  “This Office will spare no effort in prohibiting deceptive practices that harm consumers.”

The civil penalties, which varied for each broker, total more than $31 million, according to the Justice Department. A total of $11.2 million is charged against Just In Time Tickets Inc. and Kohanian, $16 million against Concert Special Inc. and Steven Ebrani, and $4.4 million against Cartisim Crop. and Simon Ebrani, according to the report.

According to the report, the brokers were unable to pay that amount, so the three are required to collectively pay more than $3.7 million to provide for the suspension of the remainder of civil penalties.  Just In Time Tickets Inc. and Kohanian are required to pay $1.64 million, Concert Special Inc. and Steven Ebrani are required to pay $1.56 million, and Cartisim Crop. and Simon Ebrani are required to pay nearly $500,000, according to the report.

The settlement orders also prohibit the brokers from using online bots to sidestep website protocols that deter nonhuman interactions from occurring, prohibit the concealing of computer IP addresses from company activities, and prohibit ticket purchases from any credit or debit card not in the name of the owner or their companies’ employees, according to the report.  The three owners are also required to maintain records and provide full compliance with government officials.

“These defendants are alleged to have cheated the system to the detriment of consumers,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department’s civil division said.  “Today’s filing serves notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the Better Online Ticket Sales Act in appropriate cases.  We are pleased to work with our partners at the Federal Trade Commission on this and other matters important to consumers.”

The report said that there had not yet been any final determination of wrongdoing by the three brokers as of Friday.  Efforts to reach law enforcement representatives for further information were unavailing.

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