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Sen. Charles Schumer Looks To Pull Plug On Ticket-Scalping 'Bots'

WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has joined the fight to keep "cyberscalpers" from beating fans to the best stadium seats at big events.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, critics say the high-tech trend has been having a detrimental impact on consumers.

Because of cyberscalpers, only those with deep pockets – or a lot of luck – made it into the Nassau Coliseum for Billy Joel's farewell concert. He is among stars who are angry with hackers, who use robotic speed dialing to scoop up thousands of concert tickets in milliseconds online.

The hackers then resell the tickets on other websites at outrageously inflated prices.

"If we want to splurge a little bit and try to buy a ticket for somebody we really enjoy seeing in person, it's just incredibly unfair for people like me," said college student Sean Bates.

"Doubling or even tripling the price, so it makes it impossible for people – many people my age," said college student Josh Wally.

Students at Hofstra University and Adelphi College and Nassau Community College joined Schumer Monday in calling for an end to cyberscalping. They noted the Billy Joel concert was sold out in five minutes – before real fans had a chance.

Hackers bought tickets for face value -- $129 – and resold choice seats for prices as high as $8,000.

Lisa Fallah of Woodbury, Long Island, is one of many Billy Joel fans who wanted to see him close out the Nassau Coliseum last month before the venue undergoes extensive renovations.

"I think I paid about $400 a ticket," she told 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon.

Schumer said the online features that require users to manually type in a code are not preventing sophisticated computer programs called "bots" from snatching up tickets the moment they go on sale.

"Through autodialing, in a matter of minutes, all the tickets are gone," Schumer explained. "Then what do the bots do? They sell them to a secondary website, which sells them for thousands of dollars."

Schumer said the practice has to stop.

"It is not how it should be," Schumer said during a news conference at Jones Beach on Monday. "It is not the American way. These people are cheating."

Schumer Looks To Pull Plug On Ticket-Scalping 'Bots'

He is introducing legislation that would prohibit the "unfair and deceptive" act of using software bots to circumvent fair play.

Sports fans and concertgoers discover jammed cyberlines, and even at modest Jones Beach Theatre, some Neil Young, Van Halen, Jimmy Buffett, and Five Seconds of Summer tickets were resold at a starting price of $450.

Schumer is urging congress and the Federal Trade Commission to move swiftly to identify bots, shut them down, levy hefty fines, and guarantee transparency and fairness for fans.

Schumer Looks To Pull Plug On Ticket-Scalping 'Bots'

"The FTC will identify them, shut them down and fine them big bucks," he told reporters, including WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

Schumer said some people may call the practice capitalism, but he doesn't.

"It was part of capitalism a hundred years ago to sell quack medicine," he said. "We stopped it. Same thing."

Meanwhile, ticket companies are worried cyberscalpers will snatch up Mets playoff tickets before families have a fair chance to buy them.


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