Entertainment seekers beware: there are a lot of bad guys out there looking to rip you off via event and ticketing scams. With so many events and so much personal information changing hands electronically these days, scammers are going to exploit security insufficiencies and human gullibility and fallibility to line their pockets.
Here are the common ways event and tickets scammers make their money:
Music Festival Scams
A typical ploy is like the one described by Satnam Narang of Symantec Security that targeted Coachella ticket buyers. Scammers created an authentic-looking website, the intention of which was to get username and password information. He wrote, “This incident is an important lesson for the modern music fan. In just two years, scammers have gone from merely creating fake Facebook pages offering tickets to Coachella to directly targeting attendees with phishing emails to steal their wristbands.”
Fake Event Scams
A scammer doesn’t have to latch on to a real event to run a con -- they can go that one better and simply invent one. After all, with no event to put on, 100 percent of the ticket sales are profit. Erin Tracy writes in the Sacramento Bee about a persistent scammer in California who created a host of events: "A gala at an amusement park, a masquerade ball at a science center, a crab feed on an island and a beer festival in a tiny park – none of them came to fruition."
Of course, scammers don’t have to be working the internet to make their play. As long as there have been tickets, there have been fake tickets. True, as scanners have come into play at most events, the counterfeiters have had to work harder to make their faux product look authentic, but they rely on scarcity and demand to compensate for any shortcomings in replication. If you’ve just scored tickets for the hottest show on Broadway, are you really going to stop and scrutinize how they look?
How to Protect Yourself
You know a problem is getting serious when the Federal Trade Commission takes notice. They have some good advice for those wary of being had by scammers of this type. For one thing, a simple online search of the name of the event you want to attend along with some keywords like “fraud,” “scams,” “counterfeit” and “fake,” will reveal if others have encountered problems with this event. Look into the promoters. Are they legit, or is the internet plastered with warnings about them? The FTC also advises you to use the contact information found on the event website. Does it check out? Does the phone number even work?
If you’d like to keep up with all the latest in the world of scamming, sign up to get alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams.
Naturally, you should always be wary about giving out your credit card information. If they accept a payment service, such as Pay Pal, then you’re protected by an extra layer of security. If they don’t, that might be a warning in and of itself.
Also, be wary of events that seem a little too inexpensive. If tickets are priced markedly below what you’re used to paying to attend such fare, you may have stumbled into a scam. Remember, scammers rely on people’s inherent desire to get a bargain. It’s certainly possible that you lucked into the most reasonably priced music festival in the country – but then again, maybe you didn’t.
And, if you’re buying tickets from a secondary market, be sure you know your source is legitimate. Do your research. Better to experience the disappointment of missing the show or the game than have the even greater disappointment of paying for the privilege of not being allowed inside to see it because your tickets are fakes!
So, buyer beware -- and enjoy the show.