Friday November 10, 2017

Paradise Papers reveal scalpers making millions off unsuspecting music fans

New details about one of the biggest players in the ticket scalping game has come from The Paradise Papers.

New details about one of the biggest players in the ticket scalping game has come from The Paradise Papers. (Pixabay.com)

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This week, the Paradise Papers leak revealed financial secrets of the world's wealthy elites — from the Queen to the U.S. secretary of commerce. 

But these same documents have exposed records of another story — the big business of ticket scalping and one of the biggest players in the scalping game, Canadian Julien Lavallée.

"He describes himself as a ticket broker. And we learned that he registered a company in Quebec where he lives in a suburb of Montreal — Boucherville. He's now 30," the CBC's Dave Seglins tells The Current's Friday Host Piya Chattopadhyay. 

Seglins, who is investigating this story, says in his resume Lavallée states he buys and sells tickets for concerts, festivals, sporting events in the U.S. and Canada and he uses websites like StubHub and Ticket Master to resell them. 

"The reason he shows up in the Paradise Papers is in 2015 he was doing so well he wanted to set up in the Isle of Man — a tax haven," Seglins explains.

"He was expanding his operations from North America into the U.K. in Europe and in the process, he submitted some accounting records that show his Quebec business gross sales 2013 — 6.8 million dollars. And the next year, 7.9 million dollars."

stubhubgraphic

There's a grey zone when it comes to the laws around ticket scalping in Canada, says Seglins.

In Quebec, where Lavallée lives, Seglins points to a law that aims to outlaw scalping — but adds "it's unclear whether it even extends to somebody if they're buying and selling over the Internet in a country outside Quebec."

Lavallée was tracked down and emailed but didn't reply.

"Only later did his lawyer send us an e-mail, a statement saying that Lavallée's Quebec firm abides by all the laws, in all the jurisdictions where he operates or he's selling," says Seglins.

StubHub also declined a request for an interview. 

"They won't say what the relationship is with Julien Lavallée. The company wouldn't discuss how many of these top sellers it has. StubHub in an email said it holds all of its sellers to the very highest standards."

For more on this story, the documentary The Super Scalpers airs tonight on CBC's the fifth Estate at 9 p.m/9: 30 p.m. NDT.

Listen to the full conversation above.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien.