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Ticketmaster to pay $10 million for hacking competitor

A photo of a Ticketmaster ticket in Los Angeles on February 12, 2009. Ticketmaster agreed to pay a $10 million fine in connection with a former employee computer hacking a competitor. Photo by Andrew Gombert/EPA
A photo of a Ticketmaster ticket in Los Angeles on February 12, 2009. Ticketmaster agreed to pay a $10 million fine in connection with a former employee computer hacking a competitor. Photo by Andrew Gombert/EPA

Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Ticketmaster on Wednesday agreed to pay a $10 million fine to settle charges it repeatedly hacked the computer system of a competitor to steal information, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The case resulted from the 2019 guilty plea by Zeehan Zaidi, the former head of Ticketmaster's Artist Services division, to conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and wire fraud.

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Ticketmaster was charged with five counts of computer intrusion and fraud.

"Ticketmaster employees repeatedly -- and illegally -- accessed a competitor's computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence," Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said. "Further, Ticketmaster's 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.

"Today's resolution demonstrates that any company that obtains a competitor's confidential information for commercial advantage, without authority or permission, should expect to be held accountable in federal court," DuCharme said.

The tech website The Verge identified the victim as CrowdSurge, which eventually merged with another company and shut down altogether in 2018.

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Ticketmaster said it was pleased to get the issue behind it and had long ago fired Zaidi.

Under the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, Ticketmaster will pay a criminal fine, and maintain a compliance and ethics program for employees. Ticketmaster also must report to the office annually over the next three years on its compliance efforts.

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