Tips to Avoid Counterfeit Tickets

Tips to Avoid Counterfeit Tickets

We see it every once in a while, a teary-eyed person walks into our office with some tickets in their hand that they think might be counterfeit. They generally say the same type of thing….bought from someone on Craig’s List and even though the tickets didn’t look right, they handed over cash in exchange for the tickets and drove straight to our office to see if they were “real.” They just couldn’t resist handing their cash over because the price was so much better than they were finding elsewhere.

Fraudsters get into counterfeiting tickets whenever a market heats up because it’s easy money for them. We see fakes for concerts and sports tickets but not so much for theatre tickets.  Buyers go on a treasure hunt, looking for that miracle and when they finally find it, they ignore the fact that they’re buying fools gold. Then they run over to Gold Coast Tickets to see if they’d been had rather than walking away and keeping their money. All we can tell them to do is go over to the police station and make a report. Sometimes they catch the theives, sometimes they don’t. But you probably won’t see your money again either way.

What fake tickets might look like so you can spot them.

Dead giveaway….tickets printed on photo paper. That’s the easiest thing that everyone should be able to spot right away.

The same barcode on more than one ticket or the same “serial” number on the back.

Blurry printing on the back.

Typos….it happens and it makes it easy to spot a phony ticket. Make sure things are spelled right, venue names are correct etc. In the example below, Northwestern is spelled wrong and the venue name is both spelled incorrectly and it’s not the real venue name. Welsh-Ryan Arena (formerly McGaw Hall) is the name of the basketball arena but on this ticket, it says Welsh Ryan Arena/McGRAW Hall. Oops.


Things about tickets that don’t mean tickets are real or fake…

It’s all about the barcodes. Once a barcode has been scanned or if the barcode has been reissued for some reason, your ticket is useless. So if you buy a Bears ticket from someone and it’s a real season ticket, but the season ticket holder reported the ticket lost or stolen and has the ticket re-issued, the ticket in your hand is just a pretty piece of paper because the barcode has been voided. The re-issued ticket has been re-barcoded and converted to an email ticket. Now the e-ticket for that seat is the valid  ticket.

Email tickets (also called electronic tickets, e-tickets or paper tickets) are probably more common than regular hard  tickets. A lot of the time, they’ll have someone’s name on them because that’s the person that first bought them. At the gate of a venue, they scan the barcode on your printed ticket and then you go inside. But they can be printed more than once.  Moral of the story? Trust your source.

Common Sense Tips for Buying Real Tickets
  1. Purchase from a reputable source such as the venue box office, Ticketmaster or other ticket issuer or a licensed and insured reseller such as Gold Coast Tickets. If you have any problems, at least you have recourse.
  2. Don’t use cash, Western Union or money orders; instead use Paypal, Chase QuickPay or another payment method that is protected.
  3. Use caution when responding to free sites that are listing tickets for sale. While the majority of craigslist users are trustworthy and well-intentioned, this is the type of site that rip-off artists use to lure their prey. If you are buying from an individual, use common sense when meeting someone for the first time. Meet in a public place with other people around (and security cameras), bring your cell phone and a friend with you and trust your instincts. If it’s scary or weird, just get out of there.
  4. Remember this motto: If it seems to good to be true…. Your research has lead you to this great deal on Craigslist. The seller can’t attend the event you are looking for because they (let me remember all the storylines I’ve heard) can’t get a babysitter/can’t get off work, just had surgery/have to visit a relative in the hospital, suddenly had to go out of town on the day of the event, their son/daughter/mom/dad/aunt/cousin/sister/neighbor/boyfriend bought tickets and can’t use them and need help selling the tickets, and the number one thing I love about these fake ticket ads is this line “our loss is your gain.” I think this line is what really gets people to make that call and convince themselves that a miracle is happening and they hit the jackpot.

So the next time you’re concerned about the legitimacy of a ticket, rather than have buyers remorse and a fake ticket, just don’t buy.  You have plenty of options that give you buyer protection and customer service after you’ve made your purchase.

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