Are you looking to buy last-minute Super Bowl tickets? Be careful. You’re not the only one with football fever. Scammers are capitalizing on Super Bowl hype to sell counterfeit tickets and rip off both Ravens and 49ers fans alike. Don’t lose your money in a Super Bowl ticket scam. You probably won’t be as lucky as Sharon Osgood.
Osgood, a diehard 49ers fan, recently pooled together $5,900 to follow her beloved team to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. According to Yahoo! News, Osgood turned to Craigslist.
She spotted a listing for two tickets from a seller claiming be a Ravens season-ticket holder. The man described himself as a Boca Raton tax attorney who couldn’t attend the big game because of his pregnant wife. They emailed, spoke on the phone and texted. It all sounded legit.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to be blinded by passion. Ticket scammers know this and never hesitate to exploit our love of the game, band or show. Osgood got so caught up in the seller’s story that she overlooked one of the most notorious signs of a Craigslist scam: he asked her to wire the money.
She did, and this is what she received:
But this cautionary tale has an unexpected happy ending. Yahoo! News reports that Ticketmaster and the 49ers got word of Osgood’s situation. Together, they offered Osgood and her family 5 complementary Super Bowl tickets.
It’s important to remember that this happy ending is the exception to the rule. Osgood was also lucky that the scammer sent her an insulting print-out instead of counterfeit tickets. Fake tickets are often very convincing and you may not realize you’ve been scammed until the stadium box office turns you away.
If you’re not content to watch Sunday’s game from the comfort of your own couch, review our Tips to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Tickets before you hit the web in search of tickets.
7 Tips to Avoid Counterfeit Super Bowl Ticket Scams
Scambook advises Super Bowl ticket hunters to stick to authorized resellers like StubHub.com and eBay, which have safeguards to protect consumers against fraud. StubHub even guarantees orders — if you purchase tickets on StubHub that turn out to be counterfeit, the company will replace them right away or refund your money.
However, if you do choose to look for tickets on open marketplace websites such as Craigslist, take the following precautions:
1. Ask yourself if it’s too good to be true. Are the tickets extremely cheap compared to the average price on other listings? Does the seller have some kind of elaborate, emotional story explaining why they can’t attend the game themselves? These are red flags and you need to walk away.
2. Don’t pay via Western Union or money order. There are no buyer protections with wire transfers or payment methods like money orders and cashier’s checks. If you send your money via Western Union, you won’t be able to get it back if the seller turns out to be a scammer. Craigslist even issues a specific warning to its users stating that anyone who insists on wire transfers may be a scammer.
3. Think twice before using PayPal. Some sellers may offer to ship the tickets overnight via FedEx after you send them the money on PayPal. Be very cautious in this scenario. Don’t open any PayPal links that the seller emails you, especially if it’s a very long URL with a foreign domain such as co.uk. Scammers often create convincing PayPal spoof-sites that can install viruses on your computer or steal your private information. Instead, always open a brand new browser window and visit PayPal directly by typing in https://www.paypal.com.
Keep in mind that although PayPal has a very robust dispute process for fraudulent transactions reported within 45 days, they won’t protect you from missing out on the game. If the seller doesn’t deliver the tickets or if you receive counterfeits, you won’t be able to get your money back in time to buy legitimate replacements.
4. Hold the transaction in person at a public place. This is the safest way to ensure that the seller won’t take your money and run. Meet them in a neutral public place to buy the tickets. For extra safety, bring a friend or tell someone where you’re going, who you’re meeting and when you expect to be back.
5. Examine the tickets carefully before money changes hands. Legitimate event tickets are printed on stiff, glossy paper. If the ticket feels too flimsy, it may be counterfeit. Examine the barcode to see if it’s been tampered with and look for other suspicious signs like ragged edges, smudged printing, official logos that don’t look right, misspelled words or wrong event details (e.g., if the game starts at 6 but the time printed on the ticket says 7).
Remember, not all counterfeit tickets are easy to spot, so you should trust your gut instincts. If the seller hesitates to let you inspect the tickets or acts suspicious while you’re examining them, walk away from the sale.
6. Never buy e-Tickets. Similarly, never buy electronic tickets that are emailed to you or printed out. e-Tickets are very easy to counterfeit, or scammers can print and sell multiple copies. If you show up to the stadium with a duplicate e-Ticket and someone else has already been admitted with the original, you’ll be turned away at the door.
7. Don’t give the seller more personal information than absolutely necessary. This is an important general rule for all online transactions. Someone selling tickets on Craigslist has no need to know your date of birth, your Social Security Number, your bank account number or other sensitive personal information. Consumers can protect their private phone numbers by signing up for a free Google Voice account. Scambook also advises buyers to use P.O. boxes or separate mailing addresses whenever they need to receive parcels.
Have You Ever Bought Counterfeit Tickets on Craigslist?
Have you ever tried to buy tickets for a sports event or a concert on Craigslist? What was your experience? We’d love to hear from you! Share your stories and safety tips in the comments.
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