Woman out $1400 in NCAA ticket scam: What you should know

FILE- In this March 16, 2015, file photo, workers add team names to a 2015 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament bracket that is displayed on the side of the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. With the Final Four a week away from shining a spotlight on Indianapolis, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday, March 26, that the governing body for college sports is concerned about an Indiana law that could allow businesses to discriminate against gay people. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

(WBAY) – Don’t let the excitement of attending the Badgers’ Final Four game cloud your judgment.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning fans to be cautious when shopping for tickets on Craigslist.

A North Carolina woman lost more than $1,400 to a scam.

She wanted to buy NCAA tickets for her husband’s 50th birthday, and found a Craiglist ad offering two tickets for the Duke-Michigan State game in Indianapolis.

The scammer used the name of an actual doctor practicing in southeastern Wisconsin, according to the BBB. After the victim did a web search and found the there was a doctor matching that name, she went ahead with the purchase.

She was sent to a website called “Purchase Tickets Safely” which listed a Milwaukee address as W. St. Paul Ave. and instructions to send money through a wire transfer.

The woman did not receive her tickets, so she emailed this seller. She was told that he decided to increase the price by $500, and if she wanted the tickets, she’d have to pay up.

The BBB says the email was full of grammatical errors, which is a red flag.

The victim found the number of the doctor and called him directly. She was told that the office had received dozens of similar calls from people who also believed they had purchased tickets from the doctor.

The BBB found out that “Purchase Tickets Safely” does not exist. The scammer falsely presented himself as a real doctor to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

Fraud experts continue to warn sports fans that big events like the NCAA Tournament are “hotbeds for scammers.”

The BBB has these tips for ticket shoppers:

  • Use reliable sellers. Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. Check first with the NCAA’s official ticket resale website at primesport.com or the official NCAA Ticket Exchange. If purchasing from a ticket broker, check its reliability with BBB. Also check to see if they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB).
  • Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy. Many legitimate ticket websites, including members of the NATB, guarantee tickets sold on their sites and will replace them or provide refunds to customers if they receive the wrong tickets or their tickets are invalid. Craigslist and other online classifieds operate under the “buyer beware” premise and offer no such guarantees.
  • Use secure websites for online transactions. When buying tickets or making online reservations, make sure that you’re using a secure website. Look for a padlock on the page, and the letter “s” in the URL after “http.” If neither is present, the site is not secure and your payment information may not be safe. Spelling and grammatical errors, capital letters where there should be lowercase and vice versa, as well as a newly formed website are red flags the “company” may not be local or legitimate.
  • Do your research. If buying online from a third-party seller, request a fax copy of the tickets before making payment to confirm the seats match up with the venue. Look for authentic security marks on the actual paper tickets.
  • Don’t believe you’re that lucky. The reason tickets are expensive is because they’re hard to get and the chances of getting lucky and finding a deal are slim. If a situation sounds too good to be true, such as someone selling tickets for much less than offered elsewhere, be leery.
  • Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card is a secure way to do business and offers the most protection should something go wrong. Never pay by reloadable debit card or wire transfer money to someone you don’t know. Meet in person if possible.
  • Be prepared to pay additional fees. Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.

You can find more tips to avoid fraud at www.bbb.org/wisconsin.

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