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Senator: Jail Time For Scalpers Who Buy Tickets With Computer Bots

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A state senator from Long Island wants to make it illegal to use computers to buy up all the great seats for upcoming concerts and shows.

New York State Senator Phil Boyle has introduced legislation that would make using automatic ticket purchasing software a crime that includes potential jail time, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported. Boyle says the current law outlawing the use of computer "bots" to buy event tickets only institutes a monetary fine -- which Boyle believes isn't enough.

"These companies are making millions of dollars, so they'll say 'yeah, I'll pay a fine of $50,000 and I'll make 10 times that much," Boyle said. "Our bill would make sure that anybody who uses these computer bots will go to jail." 

An earlier investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that third-party brokers resell tickets on sites like StubHub and TicketsNow at average margins of 49 percent above face-value and sometimes more than 10 times the price.

"It is incredibly frustrating and we get calls every week from people who try to buy tickets to their favorite concert -- they went online at the exact time they went onsale and literally within two or three minutes, the entire stadium is bought up," Boyle said. "Of course then you go on to one of these other secondary ticket sellers and the tickets are on sale 30 seconds later."

Schneiderman's report cited a single broker buying 1,012 tickets within one minute to a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden when they went on sale on Dec. 8, 2014, despite the vendor's claim of a four-ticket limit. By day's end, that broker and one other had 15,000 tickets to U2's North American shows.

Under the new legislation, those convicted of the crime would face up to four years behind bars.

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