Leadership / 02.06.18
Combating Small Timers Selling Fake Tickets to the Big Game
Neither the Philadelphia Eagles nor the New England Patriots attempted a fake punt or a fake field goal in Super Bowl LII. But plenty of unscrupulous folks tried to sell fake or counterfeit tickets to the big game in Minneapolis despite the best efforts of the National Football League (NFL) and law enforcement.
According to Courthouse News, the Eagles and Patriots teamed up a week before the game to ask a Minnesota judge to grant local police officers, the NFL and its agents the power to seize counterfeit tickets and merchandise without the notices typically required in court. For the past 35 years, NFL Properties LLC has attempted to combat the problem of counterfeiting by obtaining what are known as ex parte seizure orders. It received such an order from the Hennepin County (Minn.) District Court in 1992 when the Washington Redskins played the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI, a game that was also played in Minneapolis.
As in previous years, federal agents were also involved in combating the problem. As of press time, the numbers had yet to be made available for how much counterfeit merchandise was seized at Super Bowl LII. But prior to last year's championship game in Houston, court records show that Department of Homeland Security agents working with local police confiscated more than 260,000 counterfeit items worth upwards of $20 million. In all, 56 people were arrested for selling illegal merchandise to the 2017 Patriots-Falcons showdown, including fake tickets to the game. And that wasn't even the biggest haul. That occurred a year before, when approximately 450,000 counterfeit items worth $39 million were seized over that Super Bowl weekend.
Tickets are an especially hot items for counterfeiters, and the stakes couldn't be higher for those who get bamboozled. Each year at Super Bowl time, fans are turned away at the stadium because they purchase counterfeit tickets or came with a ticket that had been stolen and then resold.
In the lead-up to Super Bowl LII, the NFL urged the public to avoid buying tickets from anyone on the street and to pay for all transactions with a credit card. To further deter fraud, the league used official paper tickets that sported logos with heat sensitive ink. The hologram logos disappear when rubbed and return when the ink cools. Other images on the real tickets could only be seen under black light.
Nevertheless, once Super Bowl Sunday rolled around, there were still victims. USA Today reporters outside U.S. Bank Stadium on game day interviewed Chris DiSimone, who purchased a total of four counterfeit tickets. He bought the first pair off Craigslist the Wednesday before the game and a second pair for $1,500 cash on site right around kickoff. All were fake, and he and his party were denied admission to the game.
Another fan, Abby Cortez, told the newspaper she bought a single ticket around a half-hour prior to kickoff for $1,100, which was the face value of the fraudulent ticket in Section 301 of U.S. Bank Stadium. She also paid cash for the fake ticket. All of the tickets reviewed by USA Today appeared to include at least some of the safeguards the league had added, including holograms. One ticket broker consulted by the newspaper called them the best "Blinkers" or fake tickets he had seen in years.
To be sure, there were some success stories. For instance, the Minneapolis Star Tribune confirmed that two men attempting to pass off counterfeit Super Bowl tickets were arrested the day before the game at a Bloomington, Minn., hotel. Authorities were alerted to the scam, which involved the duo trying to sell the fake tickets at prices lower than face value. The suspects were jailed on suspicion of possessing counterfeit goods.
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Tags: Sports , Reselling , Security , News , Stadium