The sports market in the United States is worth a tad more than $60 billion and is expected to reach $73.5 billion by 2019. There is no question that sports is big business in the U.S., but there is another side to the market where people are also racking up millions - counterfeit tickets.
According to the NFL, the number of counterfeit football tickets increases each year. This includes tickets for the Super Bowl and individual game tickets. Football is not the only sport with a problem as NASCAR, hockey, baseball, UFC, and even boxing events share the same problem.
Counterfeit ticket sales are not just limited to sporting events. In 2016, there were many incidents of people being duped into purchasing tickets for the Tony Award winning musical, Hamilton.
"While fake Broadway tickets are generally rare, they tend to appear in popular shows like Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, and The Lion King," writes Time Money. "Hamilton is the hottest ticket in town, particularly in the wake of news that Miranda, the creator and star of the show, will leave on July 9 ."
Increase in Counterfeit Sales
High demand for sporting tickets as well as advancements in technology has caused an increase in the sale of counterfeit tickets. Combine that with the opportunity for people to make money and you have the perfect recipe for counterfeit sales.
"There are a number of factors contributing to the rise in counterfeit ticket sales," says Andres Hidalgo from Ticket Liquidator. "To start, technology has enabled the superior printing of tickets so that scammers on the street can present authentic-looking tickets." Hidalgo adds that the idea of buying tickets online has become more acceptable making the purchasing channels larger for scammers to exploit.
Even with technology getting better to detect counterfeit tickets, the technology to deceive gets better as well. In fact, it is difficult to know if a ticket is counterfeit until you actually try to use it at the gate.
Avoiding the Scam
"The average consumer would not be able to spot a counterfeit ticket," says Hidalgo. "So, the best advice is to purchase from a reputable source. The most important thing is to make sure you are purchasing from a legitimate site with a well-known history that provides a money-back guarantee." Hidalgo also says one of the largest markets is for college football tickets due to the amount of games and available tickets on any given day.
If you plan to purchase from an advert you found on a website (e.g., Craigslist), you should really think twice. Many people will see a low price ticket which is a good sign that the ticket is counterfeit. Purchasing a discounted ticket can be tempting so counterfeiters are more likely to sell the lower price tickets.
If you do decide to go through a 3rd party site and meet in person to purchase tickets, you should try to obtain a copy of the original sales receipt. Also, paying with PayPal will provide some level of protection in case the tickets are fake. You can also elect to meet at the box office where the tickets were purchased in order to verify their authenticity.
Already Been Scammed?
He promised if they were fake, he would track him down. Those are the words spoken by Chris Vazquez as he purchased concert tickets from a person off Craigslist. Fortunately for Vazquez, he took a photo of the driver's license and license plate of the seller which helped police locate and charge the suspect with fraud, grand theft, and possession of counterfeit tickets.
But what about those who were scammed and don't have good information on the suspect like Vazquez did?
Well, there isn't much you can do but make a report to the police. It's also not that easy to track down a suspect, even with good information. Although he had a photograph of identification, Vazquez still needed to conduct his own investigation to get evidence of the suspect's identity.
While filing a police report is recommended, it is unlikely the suspect will be caught. It is still recommended that you do so as the police may have similar reports and yours could potentially help them locate a suspect. Who knows? Maybe you will get lucky and the police will set up a sting to catch the thief.
If you happen to purchase your ticket from a reputable website, chances are they have a policy which protects you from receiving fake tickets. You will need to refer to the website you made the purchase from in order to know for sure.
Made the purchase via PayPal? Then you could be in luck. As stated earlier, PayPal offers certain buyer protection so if you did not receive what you paid for, file a case with PayPal and hopefully you can recover some of the funds.
As an item of last resort, you can also call the venue where the event will take place. Unfortunately, there isn't anything they can do about refunding your money. However, most events reserve an allotment of tickets which you may be able to get your hands on if they know what happened to you.
As stated previously, the best advice out there is to only purchase from a reputable source. Keep in mind that scalping and counterfeiting are two different things but sometimes the two run together. Purchasing a discount ticket is often a sign that it is counterfeit and not purchasing a ticket at all is better than getting taken for your hard-earned money.