CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – The Department of Justice and the United States Attorney Office for the Eastern District of New York, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced three settlements resolving alleged violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act. These are the first enforcement actions that the Department and the FTC have brought under the BOTS Act.
Enacted in 2016, the BOTS Act aims to prevent ticket brokers from buying large numbers of event tickets and reselling them to interested customers at inflated prices. The BOTS Act prohibits a person from circumventing access controls or measures used by online ticket sellers (such as Ticketmaster) to enforce ticket-purchasing limits. It also prevents the resale of tickets obtained by knowingly circumventing access controls.
As alleged in the three complaints filed by the United States in the Eastern District of New York, the defendants—Just In Time Tickets, Inc. and its owner Evan Kohanian; Concert Specials, Inc. and its owner Steven Ebrani; and Cartisim Corp. and its owner Simon Ebrani—committed violations of the BOTS Act to purchase from Ticketmaster thousands of tickets they then resold for millions of dollars in revenues, often at significant markups. The defendants allegedly circumvented Ticketmaster’s restrictions on users holding multiple accounts by creating accounts in the names of family members, friends, and fictitious individuals and using hundreds of credit cards. They also allegedly used ticket bots to fool tests designed to prevent nonhuman visitors. In addition, the complaints assert that the defendants used programs to conceal the IP addresses of the computers they used to make purchases.
“Those who violate the BOTS Act cheat fans by forcing them to pay inflated prices to attend concerts, theater performances and sporting events,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme. “This Office will spare no effort in prohibiting deceptive practices that harm consumers.”
“These defendants are alleged to have cheated the system to the detriment of consumers,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “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 three stipulated orders entered by the court assess civil penalties of $11.2 million against Just In Time Tickets, Inc. and Kohanian, $16 million against Concert Specials, Inc. and Steven Ebrani, and $4.4 million against Cartisim Corp. and Simon Ebrani. The orders further provide for the suspension of the remainder of such civil penalties if the defendants pay $1,642,658.96, $1,565,527.41, and $499,147.12, respectively, and satisfy certain additional terms. The stipulated orders also contain terms to prohibit the defendants from using ticket bots or other computer programs to defeat access controls, from concealing the IP addresses of computers they use to make ticket purchases and from purchasing tickets from any credit or debit account in the name of anyone other than the defendants or their corporate officers and employees. Under the terms, the defendants must also maintain records and provide compliance reports to the government.
The claims resolved by the settlements in these cases are allegations only, and there has not been any final determination of liability or wrongdoing.
This matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Bonni J. Perlin and Kevin Yim of the Eastern District of New York, with Trial Attorney Benjamin A. Cornfeld of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch. Christine M. Todaro and Frances L. Kern represented the FTC.
E.D.N.Y. Civil Docket Nos: 21-CV-212 (GRB); 21-CV-214 (DRH); 21-CV-215 (GRB