Fans beware: Super Bowl ticket scams – National Consumers League

A consumer we’ll call “Trina,” who recently contacted the NCL’s Fraud Center, is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. Eager to attend the upcoming Packers v. Steelers Super Bowl in Texas, and willing to drop serious money to do so, Trina was thrilled to see two tickets for sale on craigslist. She contacted the seller who said she was a Dallas-based flight attendant who unexpectedly had to fly to the UK and would be unable to use her tickets to the big game. The flight attendant suggested using a legitimate parcel service that would allow Trina to pick the tickets up at the airport. Trina happily wired over $950 dollars, and the ticket seller immediately sent her an email, appearing to be confirmation from the parcel service that she would receive her tickets in a few days. Days later, with no tickets and no response from the “flight attendant,” Trina started to worry. She finally called the parcel company, only to learn that they had no record of the transaction and that the email she received was a fake. Trina had been scammed. She lost $950 dollars and will be watching the game from her couch.

With Super Bowl Sunday just around the corner and pre-game excitement riding high,  NCL’s Fraud Center is warning consumers against ticket scams. A ticket scam can work in a variety of ways, but in every scenario the tickets are either never delivered or are misrepresented. As was the case with Trina, scammers often go to great lengths to seem legitimate. Fake Web sites, names, and email addresses are all par for the course.  In a typical scam, a fraudster will post tickets for a much sought-after event on popular e-commerce sites like e-bay and craigslist and then wait for a victim to take the bait. When a victim bites, the scammer will often make up elaborate stories about how they came across their tickets—a stewardess with a hectic schedule, sudden illness, family commitments, etc.—and accept credit card and wire transfer payment options. After a few days, the tickets never arrive, are counterfeit, or are old tickets to similar past events.

These types of scams are nothing new; scammers have been leveraging the excitement brought on by major sporting and concert events to rob unsuspecting consumers of their hard-earned cash for decades. The Better Business Bureau issued a warning to consumers about ticket scams just last month. With the Super Bowl on Sunday and tickets for the 2012 Olympic Games going on sale in March, now is a great time to go over some online ticket buying tips:

  • Search for and buy tickets from sites you already know and trust
  • Ask for a picture of the ticket and verify it against the venue’s seating chart
  • Get the seller’s real name and contact information
  • Always get a receipt for the purchase
  • Avoid wire transfers at all costs. PayPal and credit cards transactions are easier to cancel or reverse, and make it more likely you will get your money back if scammed

Don’t let your enthusiasm for your favorite team or band get the best of you! Use your best judgment and always go with your gut. Remember the golden rule: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.