BEVERLY HILLS (CNS) - Beverly Hills-based Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million fine to avoid prosecution and resolve criminal charges from the Department of Justice that it hacked into a rival company's computer systems on repeated occasions.
The fine is part of a deferred prosecution agreement Ticketmaster entered into with federal prosecutors in New York over five counts of alleged criminal conduct including charges of computer intrusion, conspiracy and fraud, officials announced late Wednesday.
“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly -- and illegally -- accessed a competitor's computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,'' said Seth D. DuCharme, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Previously, in October 2019, Zeeshan Zaidi, the former head of Ticketmaster's Artist Services division, pleaded guilty in a related case to conspiring to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud based on his participation in the same scheme targeting ticketing start-up Songkick. He is awaiting sentencing.
Ticketmaster said in a statement that the company is “pleased that this matter is now resolved,'' and that the employee responsible for the breach was fired in 2017.
DuCharme said Ticketmaster employees “brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit' at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company's computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.''
The case resolution in federal court in Brooklyn “demonstrates that any company that obtains a competitor's confidential information for commercial advantage, without authority or permission, should expect to be held accountable,'' DuCharme said.
The agreement requires the ticketing company -- a subsidiary of concert giant Live Nation Entertainment Inc. -- to maintain compliance and ethics procedures designed to detect and prevent computer-related theft. Ticketmaster primarily sells and distributes tickets to concerts and other events.
Prosecutors said Ticketmaster was hoping to “choke off'' the rival company and lure major clients away, and that an employee in the scheme was rewarded with a promotion and a raise.
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