Train companies keep stuffing their pockets with public subsidies while treating the operation of rail services as an inconvenienceAnonymous group Fares available include first-class and monthly tickets. The investigation, carried out by BBC South East, found some tickets, including a season ticket from Gatwick to the capital, were being advertised for a third of their retail price. Customers can use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to buy them. The investigation found that although the tickets do not have the correct metal strip that allows customers through barriers at stations, staff let users through anyway because the tickets appear genuine. The group, who were not named in the investigation, told the BBC “no one should be ashamed of getting one over companies like Southern Rail”. “The train companies keep stuffing their pockets with public subsidies while treating the operation of rail services as an inconvenience,” they said in a statement.”We wish one day everyone will be able to use an affordable public service. Until then, we will be providing it.”A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said fare dodgers “deprive” the railway of around £200 million per year. People caught in possession of a forged ticket risk a “hefty fine” or even a prison sentence as it is a criminal offence, he added.“Train companies work closely with the British Transport Police to combat and investigate fraud, and operators take a range of measures to make sure that customers are buying and using the correct tickets,” he said. A season ticket from Gatwick to the capital was being advertised for a third of its retail priceCredit:Govia Thameslink Railway “Staff carry out regular inspections on trains and at stations, and automatic ticket barriers are installed in many stations. “Sadly there will always be people who try to get away with not paying. The vast majority of passengers who do pay the correct fare don’t feel they should subsidise those who choose not to pay.”It is understood that around 97 per cent of fares are put back into helping run and improve services, with around 3p from every £1 going to the train companies. Det Insp Jeremy Banks, from British Transport Police’s Cyber Crime Unit, said they were aware criminals were using the dark web to exploit rail firms.“We take all reports of criminality seriously and our dedicated Cyber Crime Unit works closely with the rail industry as well as police forces nationally to investigate fraud and bring offenders before the courts,” he added. The full report will be on BBC Inside Out South East, which airs on BBC One at 7.30pm Fake train tickets are increasingly being sold on the dark web as criminals take advantage of customers’ anger over expensive travel, an investigation has found.Tickets are being sold on the “hidden” part of the internet for a fraction of their original price by a self-styled “Robin Hood” group, who claim they are offering “an affordable public service”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.