Three California men have pleaded guilty charges they built a network of CAPTCHA-solving computers that flooded online ticket vendors and snatched up the very best seats for Bruce Springsteen concerts, Broadway productions and even TV tapings of Dancing with the Stars.
The men ran a company called Wiseguy Tickets, and for years they had an inside track on some of the best seats in the house at many events. They scored about 1.5 million tickets after hiring Bulgarian programmers to build “a nationwide network of computers that impersonated individual visitors” on websites such as Ticketmaster, MLB.com and LiveNation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said Thursday in a press release.
… Their scheme was remarkably successful. When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played Giants Stadium in July 2008, nearly half of the 440 general admission floor tickets were snatched up by the Wiseguy Tickets network.
The network would “flood vendors computers at the exact moment that event tickets went on sale,” the DoJ said. With computerized CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart)-solving, the bots were able to complete transactions faster than any human, giving them an edge in snatching up tickets for the Major League Baseball playoffs, the Rose Bowl and many concerts.