COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of ticket scams as the summer concert season heats up.
In 2017, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than a dozen complaints about suspected ticket scams, including those involving Cleveland Cavaliers games, concerts, and other popular events. The average reported loss is about $200.
“Some con artists try to sell tickets that don’t exist,” DeWine said. “We want people to be careful, especially if they’re trying to buy tickets on Craigslist or from someone they don’t know. The sad truth is that once the money is gone, it’s nearly impossible to get back.”
In most ticket scam complaints, consumers report finding tickets for sale on Craigslist or other websites. They pay the seller, often via wire transfer, but receive nothing in return.
In some cases, consumers who post ads seeking tickets are contacted by con artists who pretend to have available tickets. Some scammers also create counterfeit paper tickets to sell to unsuspecting buyers and collect payment in cash.
Phony sellers may claim that they will be out of town at the time of the event or that they have a family emergency and can’t use the tickets. They also may communicate with consumers via text or phone before taking payment. This can make the scam seem more believable.
Tips to avoid ticket scams include:
• 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 events that are sold out or highly in demand, but these offers may be scams. Some “sellers” also may provide phony explanations for why they need to sell tickets quickly for a good price. For example, they may falsely claim to have a medical emergency or to be in the military.
• Be careful dealing with individual third-party sellers. To protect yourself, deal with reputable businesses instead of third-party individuals who are not associated with an event. Before providing any payment or personal information, research a seller’s reputation, especially that of an individual seller. Conduct an online search using the seller’s name, username, email address, and/or telephone number along with words like “reviews,” “scam,” “fake tickets,” or “counterfeit tickets.” (Even if you find no negative information, don’t assume the seller is trustworthy. Some con artists change names regularly.)
• Check the venue’s ticket policies. Increasingly, a number of venues and events predominantly use electronic tickets. If you’re trying to buy a paper ticket, make sure it’s real. Check both sides of the ticket, and be aware that some ticket scammers use falsified photos, logos, or trademarks to create counterfeit tickets that look legitimate even though they are not.
• Be wary of sellers who request specific forms of payment, such as wire transfer, prepaid money card, cash, or gift card. These are preferred payment methods for con artists, because once the payment is provided, it is very difficult to trace or recover.
• Consider paying with a credit card. If a problem arises, you generally have greater ability to dispute charges on a credit card compared to other payment methods. If you’re using a mobile wallet or peer-to-peer payment service, be sure to understand the protections that the service does (or does not) provide before you make a transaction.
Consumers who believe they’ve been defrauded should immediately report the scam and contact the company they used to make the payment. Ohioans can report scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or by calling 800-282-0515.
Suspicious Craigslist ads can be reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office directly from Craigslist.