Scalpers using the controversial online site Viagogo are onselling Great Moscow Circus tickets for its Whangārei shows at more than twice the official price.
For the past three days, New Zealand ticketing company iTICKET has been actively blocking overseas credit card purchasers who are attempting to buy legitimate tickets for reselling, and it is advising people to be careful.
In one case, a Whangārei woman paid $156 each for five circus tickets through Viagogo instead of the $60 face value, and the manager of Weber Brothers which is touring the circus said it was frustrating such practices could not be stopped in New Zealand.
"Viagogo is paying Google to be at the top of the search list and the reason they are targeting New Zealand is because this is the only country holding events at the moment," Weber Brothers director Marie Weber said.
"I've also noticed Viagogo selling a lot of rugby tickets. We don't want anyone to be ripped off but if people choose to buy tickets through Viagogo, then we can't do anything. We don't even know if they are selling legitimate tickets."
If a ticket was not legitimate, the holder would not be allowed in.
Weber said anyone who could not buy circus tickets through iTICKET or over the phone could do so from the circus venue at Cobham Oval carpark from 10am daily, except Monday.
"We set our circus ticket prices to be as affordable as possible, so to see Kiwi families paying three to four times as much as they should is very upsetting for everyone,'' she said.
"It is decent hard-working New Zealanders who are getting ripped off, with the huge mark-up ending up in Viagogo's coffers. If this is not a sophisticated international ticketing scam, then I don't know what is."
Director of iTICKET, Reece Preston, said his company had seen a marked increase over the past week in tickets purchased then resold at extortionate prices to unsuspecting buyers, who clicked on a link to the Viagogo website rather than to the official ticket seller's link when searching online.
He said overseas buyers attempting to buy circus tickets for the Whangārei shows appeared to be Viagogo agents rather than genuine customers.
"We can tell this as they are all non-NZ based, and given the current situation with international travel, it would be impossible for someone in the Ukraine, London or Germany to attend the circus in Whangārei this week."
In February, Viagogo was selling tickets for Elton John's final Hawke's Bay concert at up to seven times the price they were bought for.
Consumer watchdogs around the world have issued "buyer beware" warnings about scalpers reselling tickets on Viagogo for inflated prices.
The Commerce Commission took the Switzerland-based reseller to court in November 2018, claiming that the reseller made false, misleading or deceptive representations in breach of the Fair Trading Act.
Viagogo faces court or enforcement action in Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, the UK and Australia. It has been fined in Italy and sued by FIFA.
Police have repeatedly warned of the risks with buying items from unknown sellers.
Purchasing from registered and proven trading firms offers the purchaser a greater level of protection than buying through social media, police say.