Ticket-trawl­ing ty­coon re­vealed

Mon­trealer in­ves­ti­gated for mass re­sale op­er­a­tion

StarMetro Vancouver - - CANADA -

Sec­onds af­ter tick­ets for Adele’s 2016 world tour went live, the global ticket-har­vest­ing in­dus­try was al­ready in high gear.

With ro­botic ef­fi­ciency that has con­founded and out­raged mu­sic and sports fans around the world, high-tech scalpers claimed swaths of seats for the singer’s Lon­don show within min­utes. Count­less fans click­ing on their com­put­ers at home never had a shot.

That’s partly thanks to a 30-year-old Mon­treal ticket re­seller named Julien Lavallee who de­ployed his mys­te­ri­ous — and highly suc­cess­ful — ticket-ac­qui­si­tion method on Adele shows, just as he has on events across North Amer­ica and the U.K.

“He’s one of the big­gest bad ac­tors that we’ve be­come aware of,” says Reg Walker, a Lon­don­based se­cu­rity con­sul­tant for artists, con­cert venues and fes­ti­vals in the U.K. “That puts him in a very, very elite class of ticket touts (scalpers).”

Lavallee’s global scalp­ing busi­ness is de­tailed in doc­u­ments leaked in the Par­adise Papers, a mas­sive cache of off­shore cor­po­ra­tion records ob­tained by the In­ter­na­tional Con­sor­tium of In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ists.

Twenty-five min­utes af­ter tick­ets went on sale for Adele’s Lon­don shows, 310 seats were un­der Lavallee’s con­trol, charged to 15 dif­fer­ent names and aliases used by Lavallee and his or­ga­ni­za­tion who ap­pear to make the pur­chases from 12 dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in three coun­tries.

Lavallee and as­so­ciates scooped up sim­i­lar blocks of tick­ets to high-pro­file U.K. shows by Drake, Ed Sheeran, Jamiro­quai and Me­tal­lica, the records show.

Largely un­known in Canada, Lavallee has turned a mod­est ticket-re­selling com­pany reg­is­tered to his par­ents’ Boucherville, Que., home ad­dress seven years ago into an in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tion with an off­shore in­cor­po­ra­tion on the Isle of Man, lav­ish new of­fice space in Mon­treal and a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar em­pire.

There’s more. In a 2015 doc­u­ment filed to off­shore law firm Ap­pleby, Lavallee charts out a plan to “en­ter the United King­dom sec­ondary mar­ket with a part­ner­ship with StubHub.”

That part­ner­ship amounts to what in­dus­try in­sid­ers call a bomb­shell: ev­i­dence that the world’s largest ticket-re­selling site is fa­cil­i­tat­ing mass scalp­ing.

“I think if that (part­ner­ship) state­ment is true, that puts a whole dif­fer­ent di­men­sion on StubHub’s busi­ness model,” says Walker, a lead­ing hunter of “touts” in the U.K. “That’s ab­so­lutely dis­grace­ful .... It very clearly im­plies a part­ner­ship be­tween a tout who we sus­pect is com­mit­ting crim­i­nal of­fences work­ing in a part­ner­ship with StubHub.”

In Au­gust, of­fi­cials with the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Author­ity raided StubHub’s Lon­don of­fice and seized records re­lated to the com­pany’s re­la­tion­ships with ma­jor ticket touts, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has learned. No charges have been laid.

“We un­der­stand the ... in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing and there­fore await the out­come,” StubHub re­sponded in a writ­ten state­ment.

The U.K.’s Na­tional Trad­ing Stan­dards is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing Lavallee af­ter his Adele ticket spree hit the agency’s radar.

Lavallee de­clined re­peated interview re­quests, but a writ­ten state­ment from his lawyer says the com­pany “car­ries out all its ac­tiv­i­ties in ac­cor­dance with the laws and rules of the ju­ris­dic­tions in which it op­er­ates and sells.”

Con­trib­uted

Mon­treal ticket re­seller Julien Lavallee, whose global scalp­ing busi­ness is de­tailed in the Par­adise Papers.

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