Tech tools that help fans ‘jump’ queue to buy Taylor Swift concert tickets being sold online

Bypass links use bots to automatically fill forms and flood Web pages with multiple entries, hogging the line ahead of others. PHOTOS: SCREENGRABS FROM CAROUSELL

SINGAPORE – Tech wizardry that promises Taylor Swift fans the ability to jump queue to better secure limited tickets is being sold online ahead of the general sales starting on Friday for her concerts here.

But experts warned that those who use such tools can run into trouble with ticket providers or open themselves to potential scams.

During the pre-sales period organised by UOB Bank on Wednesday for the American singer-songwriter’s concerts, the same queue-jumping technique dubbed “bypass links” had been sold on online platforms like Carousell and Telegram for between $30 and $100.

Bypass links use bots to automatically fill forms and flood Web pages with multiple entries, hogging the line ahead of others. The mechanism also allows users to skip steps to move straight to the checkout page.

Screenshots of conversations with users who were able to skip the online queue for UOB pre-sale tickets on ticketing site Ticketmaster had popped up on Telegram groups like “Maxtix” and “Bypass By Jun”, which have more than 2,000 followers collectively.

Performing for six nights – from March 2 to 4 and from 7 to 9, 2024 – at the National Stadium, the 33-year-old pop star is expected to attract some 300,000 fans, including those from all around the region, for her Eras Tour.

Tickets start at $108 and are in short supply, with millions of fans in line. Tickets for her tours in other cities have sold out within minutes.

General sales of the Singapore concert tickets will begin at noon on Friday, and are expected to spark a frenzy on booking agent Ticketmaster’s website and Carousell. Checks by ST found that these bypass links are still being sold for up to $100.

IBM regional chief technology officer Kalyan Madala said those who buy bypass links can potentially be scammed as it is difficult to anticipate what bypass link sellers will do with their personal information, or if they will even fulfil their end of the bargain.

Proofpoint regional senior director of systems engineering Adrian Covich said third-party sellers are not linked with the main ticket provider. “There is no guarantee that they will deliver what they say, and it could leave buyers vulnerable to scams,” he said.

Indeed, sellers on Carousell said that paying for the bypass links does not guarantee success in jumping the line due to limited slots.

Most sellers claim that they would return the money to buyers if they do not receive a link used to choose preferred dates and seats that works within 15 minutes of when the sales start.

One of the Telegram group administrators wrote: “The buyer has to purchase the tickets themselves, the URL only assists you in passing the queue earlier to the ticketing website.

“(The bypass URL) generated is not through illegal hacking of the system, it is through generating numerous user sessions in the online queue, which significantly increases the chances of you passing the queue.”

Sellers on Carousell claim to have helped fans obtain tickets to other concerts, like those of K-pop girl groups Blackpink and Twice, as well as Coldplay and Jacky Cheung.

In 2022, travellers who wanted limited tickets for buses between Singapore and Johor Bahru under the Vaccinated Travel Lane access reportedly used a similar programming tool to cut the virtual queue.

Mr Thoman Foong, director of IT infrastructure and security at Stone Forest, said it is relatively simple for seasoned programmers to create apps that can automatically fill in online forms, which a normal user would take several minutes to complete. Their systems can then submit a slew of these entries, hogging the queue and pushing genuine buyers behind, he said.

This is similar to techniques that scalpers have used to nab concert tickets which they resell at exorbitant prices.

For instance, scalpers who got their hands on tickets early have listed Taylor Swift Singapore concert tickets for up to $3,000 – roughly 10 times their original price – on Carousell.

But using a bypass link comes with some risks.

Ticketmaster said in its terms of use that those who use automated means to buy tickets can be investigated and face legal action. It also said it holds the right to cancel tickets that are believed to be obtained by automated means.

Singapore Sports Hub, which will host Taylor Swift’s concerts, did not answer questions on whether bypass links are legitimate and if it is taking any action against users.

It pointed The Straits Times to its terms and conditions, which also do not address the legitimacy of tickets sold through bypass links. 

A bypass link buyer, who gave his name only as Mr Yang, and his friends used the link during ticket sales for Jacky Cheung’s concert in August and K-pop group Twice in September.

The $40 link helped secure low queue numbers, edging out tens of thousands of hopefuls in the virtual queue for Twice’s gig on Sept 3, Mr Yang, 27, recalled.

Mr Yang, who works in the tech industry, said: “It’s worth paying for since it helps us to get better seats and views at the venue too. I’d rather pay this extra amount than get a queue number in the high thousands.”

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