Ohioans are among the most loyal and enthusiastic sports fans anywhere. That’s why, when their local or favorite teams compete and succeed, Ohioans who want to attend their games must be cautious to avoid being victimized by ticket scams.
It’s no surprise that high-profile events like bowl games or playoffs also generate the most ticket scams. For example, last year, when the Ohio State Buckeyes faced Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl, a Franklin County consumer answered a Craigslist ad for six tickets to the Sugar Bowl for $800. The seller claimed to be a service member and showed the consumer a military ID. The consumer made the effort to confirm that the ID was legitimate before sending the seller money, but the “seller” had stolen the military member’s ID and used it as part of the ticket scam.
Another scammer who claimed to be a military service member with Sugar Bowl tickets to sell victimized a Fayette County consumer. After multiple text messages were exchanged, the seller provided a picture of the tickets, a copy of a military ID, and a photo of himself. The consumer sent $400 but never received the tickets.
Marquee events like the Cleveland Cavaliers’ rise to the top of the NBA and the upcoming playoff appearances of the Cleveland Indians are made-to-order opportunities for ticket scammers. Here are some tips to help Ohio consumers keep from getting ripped off:
Be skeptical of offers that are too good to be true. Sellers on Craigslist or other online marketplaces may offer tickets at face value (or below) for sporting events that are sold out or in high demand, but these offers may be scams.
Check with the promoter or venue to determine how and when tickets are being sold. Be very cautious when dealing with individual third-party sellers who are not associated with the organizations involved in the event.
Be wary of excuses for selling tickets at a low price. Some ticket scammers falsely claim to be in the military or traveling due to a death in the family to justify why they’re selling tickets at a good price. Chances are the tickets don’t exist.
Don’t trust sellers who say you must pay by wire transfer or prepaid money card. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists, because once the money is sent, it’s nearly impossible to recover.
Consider using a credit card to make the purchase. If a problem arises, federal regulations may limit your liability. Also, your credit card company may have a buyer protection program. Other payment methods might not have these kinds of protections.
My office’s Economic Crimes Unit, a division of the Consumer Protection Section, has pursued several ticket scam cases, including one that led to the incarceration of a Coshocton husband and wife who took more than $200,000 from hundreds of victims throughout the U.S. and Canada by falsely advertising tickets on Craigslist.
The key word to avoid being the victim of a ticket scam is vigilance. If you see an ad for sporting event tickets that seems suspicious or detect a potential scam, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.
Mike DeWine is Ohio’s Attorney General and a guest columnist.