Is your concert ticket counterfeit?
If you bought it outside the venue or from an online listing, you could be in for an expensive letdown. With Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and One Direction on tour, it's happening more.
With the summer concert season in full swing and such popular acts as Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and One Direction on the road, more fans are lining up than there are available tickets. That kind of demand has not only resulted in scalping -- sellers charging far more than face value for seats -- but also has spurred the underhanded cash-only business of ticket counterfeiting.
Warnings have been flying from government agencies, ticket sellers and the Better Business Bureau about phony tickets. Buy a phony ticket and you will not only lose a pile of cash but also will be shut out of the show you spent all that money on.
"Consumers are paying their hard-earned money to be there," Massachusetts Consumer Affairs chief Barbara Anthony said. "Unfortunately, these events bring along plenty of scammers and false advertisements that could leave fans out of money and out of a seat when showtime rolls around."
Her staff checked on tickets on the secondary market and found big markups and bigger concerns, noting "there is no way to verify that tickets bought on Craigslist or similar websites are authentic or will actually be delivered."
Can't tell by looking
Just ask Olivia Dodd. Her sister had tickets to a One Direction concert last month and figured she'd try to get a seat for herself and a friend since she was driving her sister anyhow. So she found a set for sale on Craigslist.
Although the meeting with the ticket seller raised a few questions, the tickets appeared authentic. So they dismissed their concerns and dropped $200 apiece for them. But when the pair got to the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Mass., the tickets were flagged at the gate and she and her friend were forced to wait outside until her sister and a friend, who had legitimate tickets, left.
"It was a terrible feeling," Dodd said. "I couldn't believe it. My friend and I were upset, embarrassed and absolutely livid."
Because seats for these concerts often sell out early, consumed by both fans and those who intend to resell the tickets, many fans are left to buy from third parties. In this case, using Craigslist -- which features warnings aplenty about how to avoid scams and fraud -- it was easy for the seller to create an account using a throwaway phone and then virtually disappear afterward.
Ahead of this past weekend's Beyoncé concert in Charlotte, N.C., tickets were on sale through various venues for far beyond the highest face-value ticket prices.
"If you want to see her show, you will have to buy tickets from a third party," said Charlotte Better Business Bureau President Tom Bartholomy. "When demand is high and supply is limited, scammers come out of the woodwork."
Because these are cash transactions, by the time buyers find out they've been scammed the cash is gone, and so is the seller.Ticketmaster spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said this sort of situation happens frequently around the country.
"Sadly, fans end up purchasing counterfeit tickets from scalpers and scalper marketplaces all too often," she said. "The only way for fans to protect themselves against this fraud is to be vigilant about where the tickets are purchased."
That means getting tickets from the original sellers -- like the venue's box office -- or from a reseller that is established and stands behind what it sells. "It is important to read the fine print on the guarantees other businesses offer," Peterson said.
Don't ever buy from someone selling tickets on the street, she said. "At no other point in our lives do we surrender hundreds, or thousands, of dollars to a stranger on the street . ... At a bare minimum, fans need to buy tickets from a reputable business that will provide a money-back guarantee."
Even if you think you have an eye for detail, it can be tough to spot a fake ticket. "Fans should never assume they can look at a ticket to see if it is real," Peterson said. "Sometimes you can tell immediately if it is fake, but no one can tell by simply looking at it if the ticket is real."
More from MSN Money:
- Fighting back against fake online reviews
- Working class pays more for auto insurance
- Feds ban work-from-home scam seller
- Door-to-door scams bloom in summertime
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