NEWARK – Four men who allegedly used fraud, deceit, and computer hacking to make more than $25 million by acquiring and reselling more than 1.5 million of the most coveted tickets to concerts, sporting events, and live entertainment throughout the United States surrendered to federal authorities this morning after being charged in an indictment, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The 43-count indictment describes a scheme in which the defendants and their company, Wiseguy Tickets, Inc. (“Wiseguys”), targeted Ticketmaster, Tickets.com, MLB.com, MusicToday, and other online ticket vendors. According to the indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on Feb. 23 and unsealed this morning, the defendants are alleged to have fraudulently obtained prime tickets to performances by, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Hannah Montana, Bon Jovi, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel, and Kenny Chesney.
The criminal scheme also allegedly targeted tickets to live theater, including productions of Wicked and The Producers; sporting events, including the 2006 Rose Bowl and 2007 Major League Baseball playoff games at Yankee Stadium; and special events, including tapings of the television show Dancing with the Stars. The events took place in Newark and East Rutherford, New Jersey, and across the United States, including in New York City, Anaheim, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Omaha, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tampa, according to the indictment.
The indictment charges Kenneth Lowson, 40, Kristofer Kirsch, 37, and Faisal Nahdi, 36, all of Los Angeles, and Joel Stevenson, 37, of Alameda, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to gain unauthorized access and exceed authorized access to computer systems. The indictment also charges 42 additional counts of wire fraud; gaining unauthorized access and exceeding authorized access to computer systems; or causing damage to computers in interstate commerce.
Lowson, Kirsch and Stevenson surrendered this morning at FBI headquarters in Newark and are expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shipp at 2 p.m. in Newark. Nahdi, who is not currently in the United States, is expected to surrender to authorities in the coming weeks.
“At a time when the internet has brought convenience and fairness to the ticket marketplace, these defendants gamed the system with a sophisticated fraud operation that generated over $25 million in illicit profits.” said Fishman. “Today’s indictment represents a significant step forward in the fight against those who use fraud to disrupt e-commerce and evade computer security.”
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 5 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison on each wire fraud charge. In addition, Lowson, Kirsch, and Stevenson face statutory maximum penalties of 5 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each of 19 counts charging gaining unauthorized access and exceeding authorized access to computers; and 10 years’ imprisonment for each of six counts charging damage to computers in interstate commerce. In addition, each defendant faces a fine of $250,000 per count of conviction.
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