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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > October 2013 > Too-Good-To-Be-True Tickets May Be Phony

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Too-Good-To-Be-True Tickets May Be Phony

You feel like you’ve just scored a touchdown when you see 50-yard line tickets for your favorite team for sale online at less than their face value. The seller may say they have a sudden family emergency and even include a scanned image of the tickets as “proof” they are legitimate. Unfortunately, those tickets may be well-designed counterfeits or may not even exist, leaving you without your money and seats for the big game.

When it comes to purchasing tickets from individuals or outlets other than a team’s authorized ticket sellers, it is generally “buyer beware,” so consumers should be very cautious when buying via online marketplaces, social networking sites, and classified ads.
In late 2011, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, along with local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, won a conviction against Todd and Jessica Steinhaus, who scammed victims in about 36 states out of more than $200,000. They pleaded guilty and are serving prison time for selling tickets they never provided for events such as the World Series, the Super Bowl, and concerts by Kenney Chesney and Usher.
Another criminal conviction involved Stark County resident Kathleen Kinsella, who admitted to stealing $5,499 through CraigsList ticket scams. She sold tickets that were never delivered for popular artists such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. 
While reselling real tickets is commonplace, take the following precautions to help ensure your ticket is legitimate:
  • Be leery of any seller requesting you wire a payment or provide it through a money card. Once the transaction occurs, it cannot be traced and you may be left either empty-handed or with fake tickets.
  • If you want to purchase tickets from a reseller, consider one connected to the official seller, venue, or event promoter.
  • Find out if any reviews or feedback have been posted about the ticket seller. Search online using the seller’s name, username, email address, and/or telephone number alongside words like “scam,” “fake tickets,” or “counterfeit tickets.”
  • Use 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.
  • Carefully inspect both the front and back of tickets prior to purchase. Many tickets contain anti-counterfeit features such as holograms. Contact the event promoter or official ticket seller for tips on how to spot a fake ticket for the event you wish to attend.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or by calling 800-282-0515.