A woman who ran a multimillion-pound touting firm which bought and sold tickets on an “industrial scale” has been jailed for four years.

Maria Chenery-Woods, from Dickleburgh, known as the 'Ticket Queen', was handed the sentence for her involvement in Norfolk-based TQ Tickets Ltd.

The business used dozens of identities to buy tickets for acts such as Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga and sell them on secondary ticket websites, often at highly inflated prices, a judge said.

Eastern Daily Press: The firm used dozens of identities to buy tickets for high-profile acts such as Ed SheeranThe firm used dozens of identities to buy tickets for high-profile acts such as Ed Sheeran (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

The 54-year-old was jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday alongside her employee Paul Douglas, who was given a prison sentence of two years and five months.

Chenery-Woods’ husband Mark Woods and her sister Lynda Chenery, who is also Douglas’s ex-wife, were handed suspended prison sentences by Judge Simon Batiste.

Chenery-Woods and Douglas admitted fraudulent trading but Woods and Chenery were convicted by a jury earlier this year which heard how TQ Tickets sold tickets worth more than £6.5m between 2015 and 2017.

But Judge Batiste said this figure only covered part of the period the company was trading and did not include hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of unsold tickets trading standards officers found when they raided its offices in Dickleburgh.

Judge Batiste said: “What was being done was purely to maximise profit and out of greed.

“Your aim was to rinse or fleece customers out of as much money as you could.”

READ MORE: Ticket touting operation run from Norfolk 'mocked customers'

The judge explained how TQ Tickets used a file of more than 100 identities to buy tickets from primary selling sites like Ticketmaster.

These identities included a 10-year-old child, a dead relative and some who were completely fake.

Judge Batiste explained how the firm “created a web of criminality” as they also “corrupted” students and other young people into buying tickets for them.

The firm would then resell the tickets – often at vastly inflated prices – on secondary ticketing platforms such as Viagogo.

The judge said the actions of TQ Tickets sometimes led to fans being refused entry to venues or with poorer tickets than they paid for.

Eastern Daily Press: The pair were jailed at Leeds Crown CourtThe pair were jailed at Leeds Crown Court (Image: Dave Higgens, PA)

The jury heard that in the period June 2015 to December 2017, the firm had sales in excess of £6.5m on secondary ticket platforms.

The firm bought 47,000 tickets during that period, using 127 names and 187 different email addresses.

In one message shown to the jury, Douglas said to Chenery-Woods that the purpose of the business is to “simply rinse consumers for as much profit as they are willing to pay”.

The judge said Douglas was Chenery-Woods’s “lieutenant” and told him that he “revelled in the amount you could rinse unsuspecting customers for”.

He said Douglas bought and sold tickets “on an industrial scale”.

Lord Michael Bichard, chair of National Trading Standards, said: “Today’s sentencing marks another significant milestone in our work to combat online ticket touts, which has already resulted in landmark prosecutions. 

"It sends a clear message that criminals trying to rip off honest fans risk prosecution."

Eastern Daily Press: Tickets for Lady Gaga's tour were also resoldTickets for Lady Gaga's tour were also resold (Image: Ian West/PA)

Chenery-Woods, of Dickleburgh, Norfolk, and Douglas, 57, of Pulham Market, Norfolk, admitted three counts of fraudulent trading earlier this year.

Chenery, 52, and Woods, 60, both of Dickleburgh, were found guilty of the same charges.

Woods was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and told he must observe an electronically monitored curfew between 8pm and 6am for four months.

Chenery, who sobbed uncontrollably as she was sentenced, was given a 21-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

The defendants will now face a confiscation hearing on December 2.