The Cardinals' 100-win season puts them in the playoffs starting this week. Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns fans to beware of potential scams by fake ticket sellers seeking to cash in on the team's success.
The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the stadium, on the street or through online auctions, classified ads and bulletin boards. Recent cases involving area ticket sellers or events include:
• Two women who were scammed twice on tickets purchased for the Taylor Swift concert at Scottrade. Tickets they purchased through a Craigslist ad never arrived, and tickets they bought from a scalper outside the concert turned out to be fake.
• Last year in Kansas City, federal officials seized World Series tickets worth thousands of dollars and other counterfeit merchandise.
• The arrest of a St. Ann woman following media reports that she used Craigslist ads to sell several duplicate copies of tickets to the Bruno Mars concert at Scottrade Center.
• Concert goers in several states who complained that they paid a ticket broker from western Illinois hundreds of dollars each for tickets they never received.
"Fans can get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive," said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. "It pays to scrutinize ticket sellers closely or buy through reputable dealers who sell tickets with a guarantee."
"The Internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets," Corey said. "Unfortunately, it also has become a breeding ground for scammers looking to take advantage of sports fans."
The secondary market for sporting and entertainment tickets is estimated at about $10 billion a year. It includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers as well as those purchased and resold by speculators and season ticket holders.
Tickets purchased for sports and entertainment events are the source of hundreds of BBB complaints by consumers nationwide.
BBB's database of BBB Business Reviews includes trustworthy, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit-card numbers so the site can charge a seller's card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets.
The Cardinals' authorized ticket reseller is StubHub.com, and the baseball club recommends buying directly from the Cardinals or through StubHub.
BBB offers the following advice for fans seeking tickets:
• Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren't real, the seller will be long gone.
• Before buying from an online ticket broker, look for BBB's Accredited Business seal on the website and click on it to make sure it is real. BBB's dynamic seal will take you directly to a company's BBB Business Review, where you can read about the company's record for responding to complaints. Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by "https://" at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
• If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
• Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a legitimate site to another site for a "private" transaction. Scammers often want to conduct their business on sites with names that mimic well-known companies but actually are fakes.
• If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, never pay the seller by wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit. Use a credit card in case you need to challenge the charge.
Before you do business with a charity or company, check its BBB Business Review or BBB Charity Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.