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TicketMaster’s CAPTCHA hacked for years

2010 March 1
by Todd Plesco

Kenneth Lowson, 40, Kristofer Kirsch, 37, and Faisal Nahdi, 36, all of Los Angeles, and Joel Stevenson, 37, of Alameda, California were known as The Wiseguys.  They worked with programmers from Bulgaria to circumvent CAPTCHA.  CAPTCHA requires people to read distorted images of letters, numbers and characters on a screen and retype them before buying tickets.  The Wiseguys used the CAPTCHA code of major concert and event vendors’ merchant websites like Ticket Master, Live Nation Entertainment, Telecharge, etc to script their way to first dibs on high priced tickets much quicker than humans manually could accomplish the task.  Often, they purchased the tickets prior to the actual official sale date.

Prosecutors allege they resold  Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Billy Joel, Miley Cyrus, Barbra Streisand, and Bon Jovi and made more than $28.9 million in profit from 2005 to 2008.  All four men are charged with one count of conspiracy and 10 counts of wire fraud. All except Faisal Nahdi have been charged with nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer and 10 counts of accessing a protected computer with intent to defraud.