DeWine warns consumers to watch for ticket scams
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently warned consumers to watch for scams as they search for tickets to upcoming events, including the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians home openers.
“Some scam artists use popular events to rip off consumers,” DeWine said. “With Opening Day and other big-ticket events coming up, we’re encouraging people to be careful, especially with individual sellers they meet online. If someone says you have to pay using a prepaid card or wire transfer, it’s likely a scam.”
In the past year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received dozens of complaints involving tickets. At least nine consumers have reported losing hundreds of dollars to online ticket scams involving sporting events or concerts.
The most recent reports involved the 2015 Ohio State/Alabama Sugar Bowl, when two Ohioans lost $800 each when trying to buy tickets to the game. Other reports involved phony ticket offers to see the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Cavaliers, or concerts.
With high demand for upcoming events such as the Cincinnati Reds home opener (April 6), Cleveland Indians home opener (April 10), NCAA men’s basketball finals (April 4-6), NBA playoffs (starting April 18), and Rolling Stones concerts (May 30 in Columbus), additional ticket scams are likely.
Signs of a ticket scam include:
• Offers that seem too good to be true. Sellers, especially on Craigslist or other online marketplaces, may offer tickets at face value (or below) for events that are sold out or highly in demand, but these offers may turn out to be scams.
• Demands for payment via wire transfer or prepaid card. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists, because once payment is provided it is very difficult to recover.
• 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 explain why they are selling tickets for a good price. In reality, the tickets do not exist.
To avoid scams, DeWine offered consumers the following tips:
• Check with the event organizer, promoter, or venue to learn how and when tickets are being sold. Be careful when dealing with individual third-party sellers who are not associated with the event.
• Read what others say about a seller. Search online using the seller’s name, username, email address, and/or telephone number along with words like “scam,” “fake tickets,” or “counterfeit tickets.” To protect yourself, only buy from legitimate businesses and websites, not individual sellers you do not know.
• Ask to see the front and back of a ticket. Make sure both sides appear real. Be aware that some ticket scammers use falsified photos, logos, or trademarks to make their offers appear legitimate.
• 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.
DeWine’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.
Ohioans can report suspicious Craigslist ads to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office directly from Craigslist at https://www.craigslist.org/about/scams. They also can report potential scams by calling the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.