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Howard Ain, Trubleshooter: Beware ticket sales scams

Updated: Friday, January 30 2015, 08:43 AM EST
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- When looking for tickets to a concert or a game, you probably check online first.

There is a scam involving tickets you need to know about.

Nearly 5 million people each year pay for tickets to concerts, sporting events and theme parks that prove to be fakes. They buy these tickets online from classified ads like Craigslist, Ebay or ticket-selling websites that appear to be legitimate.

Concerts, football, basketball and baseball games and popular theme parks. All considered hot tickets, but where you buy those tickets can  make the difference between real and fraud.

"The scheme developed when suspects utilized modern resources like Craigslist and other classifieds to post advertisements for tickets on line," says Keegan Martin, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Once a buyer purchases those tickets:
"The suspect would actually provide them with a confirmation number and a tracking number so they could follow their tickets," says Martin.
Those numbers were useless and the tickets were fakes.
Mounting complaints led postal inspectors to the home of the main suspects in this case, James Williams and Anthony Johnson.
Inspectors say Williams was trying to destroy evidence, even trying to flush their records down a toilet.
"We found shredded pieces of paper all around the room. He attempted to take his computer, pour water on it and throw it out the back window," says Martin.
Inspectors caught the bad guys. Here is their advice on how to avoid this scam:
Use well-known sites like Stubhub or Ticketmaster. Prices may be a little higher than Craigslist or Ebay, but tickets are authentic and guaranteed.
Before clicking "Buy" on a vendor's website, type the site into a search engine and see what results come up. That could lead you to complaints from past customers who were ripped off.
"Verify. It would have saved a lot of victims time by just doing a quick Google search to see if the company even existed," says Martin.

Another tip? Always pay with a credit card or a Paypal account. They offer more protections against unfair charges than if you paid with a debit card.

James Williams was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to repay $78,000 to his victims. Anthony Johnson was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay $66,000 in restitution.

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