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Ticket fraud rising in Colorado during playoffs and summer concert season

Posted: 5:52 PM, May 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-08 14:44:03-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – Are you planning on going to a summer concert? How about a big playoff game? News 5 Investigates uncovers the bigger the event, the bigger the risk for being ripped off and missing the event completely. The technology has evolved so much when it comes to buying tickets. Two decades ago you had to camp out at the box office to get tickets to that big event. Then, you could just call on the phone. Now, it can all be done from your home computer. It’s allowed people to cut in line to get the tickets just to price gouge you later, or even rip you off. Both consumers and our local arenas must navigate this ticket turmoil.

A sellout crowd arrives at the Pepsi Center in Denver ready to watch the Colorado Avalanche in their quest to win the Stanley Cup. It’s an exciting time to be a Colorado hockey fan and savvy fans know it’s also a prime opportunity for scammers to cash in.

“Nowadays somebody can hand you a ticket and say it’s a real ticket, but it’s not and when you get to the stadium,” said Avalanche fan Shawn Camp.

With the seats completely filled for nearly every playoff game Sean Ream in charge of the team’s ticket sales says it’s no surprise people are getting ripped off and price gouged for tickets.

“The bigger the event the more fraud you see because there’s more value behind that ticket so people see a bigger opportunity to go out and try and re-sell that ticket for a higher amount of money and so we we see it really uptick whenever the Avs are in the playoffs,” said Ream.

In some cases fans are paying for tickets that don’t exist. The scalpers go online and find two cheap tickets to buy from a third party retailer. Then, they print out several copies and sell the tickets on street corners. The first two in the doors make it into the game, the rest just paid for tickets that have already been used and can’t get their money back.

“That’s heartbreaking. Specifically a really big event like an Avs playoff game people come out and for some people that’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Ream.

To combat ticket fraud concert and sporting event venues like Pepsi Center are using new technology. Now fans present their tickets on their mobile device. It eliminates the issues with print out tickets and helps fans stay a step ahead of the fraudsters.

“You can go come right in on your mobile device. It offers a QR code and that QR code literally changes I believe every 30 seconds. So that that can’t be faked,” said Ream.

Also, online security filters like this are put in place to defeat illegal “robot apps” from buying large quantities of tickets just to re-sell them for more money.

“It’s not illegal to resell tickets, but when someone comes in and buys every seat it makes it really inconvenient,” said Ream.

Inconvenient enough, that people like Kristen Garnhart will take a chance to acquire a seat to a sold out event. She lost $160 on Craigslist when she tried to buy tickets to the sold out Chris Stapleton concert at Pepsi Center last summer.

“I was like ok. I transfered the guy the money. I transferred him the $160 bucks. Never heard from him again. Never saw the tickets. The guy wouldn’t answer my calls and wouldn’t answer my texts,” said Garnhart.

Garnhart says after taking her money, a few days later the seller offered to sell the same tickets to her aunt.

“Who knows how many times he bought concert tickets for different artists and did the same thing or even sporting events and did the same thing,” said Garnhart.

Ticket fraud does happen at a startling clip. According to AARP research phony tickets are sold to sporting events, concerts, and even theme parks every year. 5 million people buy bad tickets annually. Losses add up to more than $4 million a month. In Colorado Springs leaders at the Broadmoor World Arena say they are amazed by people still trying to game the system. Some people are even trying to get into events with tickets from previous years.

“We’re astounded by their creativity,” said World Arena General Manager Dot Lischick.

Lischick says a majority of the ticket fraud the World Arena sees is tied to people buying from questionable re-sellers.

“It’s painful. It’s painful for the facility to try to make good on something they may not be able to. It’s painful for the ticket buyer. They may not be able to see the show,” said Lischick.

But the shady work of fraudsters doesn’t end there. People who acquire stolen credit card numbers buy tickets to events and try to double or even triple their money selling these seats on the secondary market. Take John Brewer’s story for example. He lives in Colorado Springs and says he had no intention of seeing George Strait in concert in Las Vegas, but whoever stole his credit card number had other ideas.

“They purchased 8 tickets for George Strait in Vegas which was happening the night after so it was pretty quick it was just the next day,” said Brewer.

Fortunately, Ticketmaster flagged the purchase because the fraudster didn’t have John’s phone number correct. The transaction never went through, but john knows the fraudster could’ve made big money re-selling those tickets.

“Try to re-sell them immediately. The faster they sell them the faster they get their money the harder it is to catch them,” said Brewer.

Pepsi Center officials say when they find out tickets are purchased with a stolen credit card they are flagged and won’t be honored. It’s bad news for a fan who purchased the tickets legally from a secondary site. They still won’t be allowed in the game.

“While they might get their money back the reality here is, they might not have a seat for the event that they really wanted to see,” said Ream.

“To have a news station be like hey we’ve heard about this happening a lot let’s look into it further. It gives justification that this stuff does happen and that people don’t just make this stuff up,” said Garnhart.

For best results you should always try to buy tickets through the event venue, but for the big and even sold out events that can be difficult. The bottom line is the further away from the ticket office you get, the great the risk of being ripped off. If you happen to find yourself a victim of ticket fraud you should always file a police report.