Swindled Swifties: Taylor Swift fans share costly lesson after losing over $800 on fake concert tickets
CHICAGO - Chicago's star-studded summer concert season is really set to sizzle this year. Among them, Taylor Swift herself takes the stage at Soldier Field next month.
If you're scrambling to find tickets to her shows or any others, Fox 32's Jake Hamilton asks the experts for some tips on how not to get scammed.
Swifties across the country burned up the internet last November when tickets for Swift's Eras Tour first went on sale. While many fans got their tickets back then, some are still looking for a few for sale.
"I post on Facebook and a bunch of people reached me out and say they had tickets. They can give me a few tickets. They look like fake. All of them look like fake," said Luli Torres, a Swift fan.
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Luli and her friend Sara DeCucco did wind up buying tickets from one seller on Facebook to Swift's recent show in Atlanta. The tickets were $430 each.
"This person sent us videos and photos. He sent us his Ticketmaster account. So we felt like there's no way he's lying to us," Sara said.
But when the friends got to Atlanta, their trip hit a very sour note.
"We pay her half and then she block us. Delete all the messages. She never appears. What a mess. We got really sad at that point," Luli said.
"The closer it gets to the venue or the date itself of the concert, you'll see more and more scammers come out of woodwork because they know consumers are very hungry and their emotions are running wild," Steve Bernas, president & CEO of the BBB said.
Consumer fraud experts say if you think you're too smart to get scooped up in a ticket scam, think again.
"People really need to be careful. I've seen reports indicating that as many as 12% of ticket buyers to major events end up getting scammed. So that's a really significant percentage," said Todd Kossow, Director of the Midwest region for the Federal Trade Commission.
If you do the math, there are approximately 60,000 tickets for sale for each of Swift's upcoming shows at Soldier Field. That means just over 7,000 fans will buy a bogus ticket.
"The key is you gotta deal with a licensed ticket broker or the venue itself. If you buy from anyone off Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, it's like going down a dark alley and buying tickets from somebody out of their car," Bernas said.
"If you do go through a ticket broker, there's a national association of ticket brokers. You can go on their website and make sure the broker you are dealing with is a member of the agency. That's important because members of that association do guarantee their tickets," Kossow said.
Even when buying from a licensed ticket broker, chances are you are doing it online, which means you still need to be careful.
"So there are impersonator websites," Kossow said. "First of all, look really closely at the URL. Usually, they'll be just one letter off. If you look quickly, you won't notice it."
"The other red flag is to just look at the setup of the website. Is the grammar correct? Are there spelling errors? Things like that," he added.
Kossow says it's best to take matters into your own hands and only click on links you have typed in yourself and are not misspelled.
If you do find yourself using a third-party marketplace because the price looks right, look again.
"So you might see on Craigslist a price for tickets to a major event that are much lower than other prices you're seeing if there's tickets available. That's another red flag. Those are likely counterfeit tickets," Kossow said.
Chances are you won't know if you have a fake ticket until it's too late.
"The only way you can tell (if it's fake) is to go up to the venue and click on it or scan the barcode," according to Bernas.
You also want to pay attention to how a seller on a third-party marketplace wants you to pay for your tickets.
"If you meet someone on Craigslist who says 'I need cash,' that's the tip-off to the rip-off, because they want to take the cash and run. They are not going to be around tomorrow," Bernas said.
"Do not pay that way because typically there's no protection from fraud," Kossow said. "With those sorts of payment mechanisms, the safest way to pay is via a credit card because then if you've been defrauded, you can charge that back."
Kossow says don't use money transfers, gift cards or a payment app for the same reason. Federal consumer protection laws don't cover them.
"They could file a police report, but most of these times people create these websites or create a Facebook page and they are gone. Or Craigslist. You never know who you are buying from," Bernas said.
"When we got the tickets, we were so excited. We're going to see her. It was perfect," Sara said. "When we were told those tickets don't work, we were devastated."
Experts also say be weary of third-party marketplaces advertising tickets for sale to a show that is sold out or post pictures showing the ticket's barcode.
If you think you're a victim of a ticket scam, the FTC wants to hear from you. You can reach them at ReportFraud.FTC.gov.
Better Business Bureau tips to reduce your risk of money loss and identity theft:
- To reduce the risk of scams, always search ratings and reviews with BBB.org before you buy.
- Buy tickets at the box office or from the venue’s official site and be careful because imitation sites can appear first in internet searches.
- Only deal with secure websites. These will begin with "HTTPS" and have a "lock" symbol on the address bar.
- Fake websites will offer tickets at low prices to trick people into entering their credit card info. Scammers can take your money and use your credit card to purchase big-ticket items.
- Counterfeit-forwarded electronic tickets with forged barcodes look very professional with a copy and pasted logo of the actual ticket company. You will be denied access when you arrive at the concert and the scammer is long gone.
- Another devious trick: Fraudsters will copy and paste an actual electronic ticket and then "sell" it to many purchasers, all of whom get denied at the gate.
- Use extra caution buying tickets sold on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other free online listings. Buying tickets on these types of sites, from people you do not know is similar to buying tickets in a dark alley.
- Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card, so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfers, or cash transactions are money lost if the tickets are fraudulent.
- Know the refund policy. Only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides details about the transaction terms. Know what happens when an event cancels or changes dates.
- Red flag: Scammers use high pressure and low prices to make fast sales knowing people are desperate to see the show.
- Be alert to high transaction fees on the final page of your purchase. Many low-rated ticket sellers collect all your information before indicating exorbitant fees on the last step.
For official merchandise:
- Only buy merchandise at the concert venue.
- Know the refund policy. You should only purchase merchandise from someone who discloses the terms and conditions of refunds or exchanges.
- Be aware that unlicensed and unofficial clothing are often made from inferior materials that shrink and ink that might run and cause problems in the wash.