Leadership / 03.09.18
Championing Playoff Ticket Fraud Prevention
March Madness is almost upon us in the college basketball world, and not long after that will be the NBA and NHL post-seasons. It will be a time of opportunity ― for trophies; for glory; and, sadly, for playoff ticket fraud. Brian Devine, resident agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Syracuse, N.Y., recently told the Syracuse Post-Standard, “Major sports events like the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship can create a ripe environment for criminal groups to exploit the enthusiasm of fans by marketing counterfeit goods and tickets.”
Such criminal activity was rampant during the recently completed NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. Hopefully, some lessons have been learned. The Minnesota Vikings were especially proactive in trying to help fans avoid fraud. The team issued an advisory not to purchase playoff tickets on hard ticket stock. Vikings-authorized tickets are either digital or printed as letter-size PDFs. Fans were also advised to examine tickets for any alterations or inaccuracies by comparing the seat number and price with the U.S. Bank Stadium map found on the Vikings' mobile app.
Looking ahead to next season, the Green Bay Packers recently announced that PDF, or “print at home,” tickets will no longer be offered. With this change, tickets sold via Ticketmaster or forwarded electronically to others will be scanned on smartphones as the only mode for entry to Lambeau Field. Separately, the Denver Broncos have announced next season will begin the use of a digital ticket to be received on smartphones. For those fans who do not have such a device, a radio frequency ID card will be offered as an alternative solution. According to Broncos executives, the change is to get rid of potentially fraudulent paper or hard tickets.
Examining the efforts of sports teams currently in play, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) recently announced plans to restrict ticketing options to mobile-only or standard ticket stock. While the change won't be made in time for the playoffs, the NBA's Toronto Raptors and the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to eliminate the PDF ticket option starting fall 2018. MLSE Chief Commercial Officer recently told TicketNews.com, “We're seeing more than 10 ejections and rejections a night, and these are the [counterfeit tickets] we know about. It's overwhelmingly people who have been duped. Those are real tears.”
Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators appear well-positioned for a deep playoff run after losing the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. Last post-season, the team implemented its “Grow the Gold” policy and will probably do so again this year. The policy prevents resale of sold tickets and ensures that electronic tickets displayed on mobile devices only appear the day of the game or when the doors open at Bridgestone Arena.
The Better Business Bureau continues to try and get out ahead of the problem. It recently released a list of tips for safe ticket purchases. Suggestions range from only buying from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction to using payments that come with a certain degree of protection. To this end, debit cards, wire transfers and cash transactions are discouraged. Those who make ticket purchases with a credit card, by contrast, at least have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised.
Another rule of thumb is always check out the seller/broker ahead of time on www.bbb.org to see what other consumers have experienced. While online, check www.VerifiedTicketSource.com to see if a particular seller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB). NATB members offer a 200 percent guarantee on tickets that do not arrive in time for a game, concert or other live event. Of course, consumers' best bet is to purchase tickets through each team’s official ticket office, Ticketmaster or such official sites as NBATickets.com or the NFL Ticket Exchange. Those are the only online sellers that guarantee tickets that fans purchase will work at the gate.
Finally, law enforcement must play a role in combating playoff ticket fraud. To be sure, there have been some success stories. In February, for example, a 24-year-old Florida man was arrested and charged with four counts of scalping tickets and counterfeiting trademarks. He had listed tickets to the Feb. 9 Duke-North Carolina basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium for sale on Craigslist. The buyer happened to be a ticket broker for StubHub.com, who had been burned by this seller previously. Rather than confronting the crook, he alerted local law enforcement, and the guy was arrested.
Police in Auburn, meanwhile, have alerted fans to be cautious when purchasing second-hand tournament tickets with the Tigers men's basketball team having one of their best seasons in years. They note that the only officially recognized ticket outlets are the Auburn University Ticket Office, the opposing team’s primary ticket office and StubHub.
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Tags: Sports , Paperless , Reselling , Security , Mobile , Stadium , Secondary Ticketing