Ticket-trawling tycoon revealed
Montrealer investigated for mass resale operation
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.”
Montreal ticket reseller Julien Lavallee, whose global scalping business is detailed in the Paradise Papers.