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Crime in Hong Kong

11 suspected mainland Chinese scalpers arrested in Hong Kong for trying to sell tickets to Canto-pop legend Andy Lau concert at up to 6½ times face value

  • Plain-clothes police posed as clients outside the Hong Kong Coliseum, where singer kicked off his world tour
  • Tickets costing HK$980 had resale price of between HK$3,500 and HK$5,000, police said
PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2018, 12:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2018, 5:20pm

Eleven people from mainland China were arrested over the weekend in Hong Kong in an operation by plain-clothes police to tackle ticket touts at superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah’s concerts.

Six men and five women, aged between 26 and 53, tried to sell tickets to officers posing as clients outside the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom, quoting prices of up to 6½ times the face value, assistant police commander Wong Siu-cheung said on Sunday night.

All 11 are holders of a two-way permit, a document issued by mainland authorities for residents to travel to the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. They were suspected of scalping and violating their conditions of stay, according to police.

“For tickets originally priced at HK$380 [US$49] each, they offered to sell them at HK$2,500. For tickets of HK$580 each, they quoted between HK$1,700 and HK$3,500. And for tickets of HK$980 each, they tried to resell them for between HK$3,500 and HK$5,000,” Wong said.

A total of 18 tickets and some cash were seized from the 11 people arrested, however, the police did not see any evidence of organised crime, Wong added.

Entertainers in Hong Kong call for stiff ticket scalping penalties

Police and the Immigration Department jointly conducted the operation over the weekend as Canto-pop legend Lau kicked off his 2018 world tour in his home city on Saturday.

In late August, a mainland man who had been in line for more than a week waiting to buy tickets for Lau’s concerts was attacked by four men with knives.

The case prompted Lau to suspend box office bookings, which led to severe jams on online and phone ticketing systems.

“There was no box office for these concerts. People could only buy tickets online, through mobile applications or by phone,” Wong said.

“We are also very interested in how these [arrested] people managed to buy so many tickets. It will be a direction of our investigation.”

Wong said police would review the operation with immigration and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs the Coliseum and other venues, to decide whether similar measures would be carried out for other concerts.

Buying concert tickets in Hong Kong – a fraught exercise

In October, Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council, backed calls to revise scalping laws and plug a loophole that enabled tickets to be resold online at massively inflated prices, with little to no customer protection.

An extreme case cited by the council also involved Lau’s concerts, in which an eager fan paid HK$40,000 for a HK$1,000 ticket on a resale website.