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Taylor Swift Fans Targeted in Concert Ticket Scams

A mother buys 4 tickets, only to find out they are fake

spinner image Criminals sell fake concert tickets to fans.
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spinner image infographic quote reading "I decided to drive down to the venue with the tickets. He said 'No problem. You're going to find out that they're totally legit."
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Full Transcript

(MUSIC INTRO)

[00:00:01] Bob: This week on The Perfect Scam.

[00:00:04] Lisa Turner: And he was like, "That sounds kind of fishy... So I decided to drive down to the venue with the tickets, 'cause it was still the day before the show. I just started to have a weird sense about it, you know.

[00:00:15] Bob: Hmm, hmm.

[00:00:16] Lisa Turner: And I even told Kevin I was doing this. Like we were still in communication. And he was like, "Yeah, no problem." Like, "You're going to find out that they're totally legit, you know."

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:00:27] Bob: Welcome back to The Perfect Scam. I'm your host, Bob Sullivan. It's hard to overstate the excitement around Taylor Swift's concert tour this year and how hard it was to score tickets to one of her sold out shows, which is why these four teenage girls are screaming one afternoon in June... their moms had managed to get four tickets to a show at Detroit's Ford Field. But those screams of joy, well, they turned to tears soon after. And then those tears were turned to well, you know I love a happy ending, and we'll get to that. But first, let's meet one very devoted mom and a very determined concertgoer.

[00:01:11] Lisa Turner: My name is Lisa Turner. I live in Berkley, Michigan.

[00:01:14] Bob: And, and where is Berkely, Michigan?

[00:01:16] Lisa Turner: Just outside of Detroit.

[00:01:17] Bob: Is there a thing that Berkley is known for?

[00:01:19] Lisa Turner: We're right off the Woodward Corridor, so we're part of the Woodward Dream Cruise, which is the largest international single day car event in the world, and I, I think that's about it. We're just a small, small little community kind of surrounded by a larger one.

[00:01:36] Bob: Lisa is a self-proclaimed professional concertgoer.

[00:01:41] Lisa Turner: I mean if I had to give myself a name, yeah. I, no, nobody has called me that. I don't get paid to go to concerts, but it's been a passion of mine since I was a child that had a family member that took me to shows all the time. I mean I've been to over a thousand concerts. I've, you know, bought ti--, I used to sleep in the parking lot of the venues back in the day.

[00:02:03] Bob: You've been to a thousand concerts.

[00:02:04] Lisa Turner: At least, yeah.

[00:02:06] Bob: On my God, so what, what was your first concert?

[00:02:09] Lisa Turner: My first concert was Whitney Houston.

[00:02:11] Bob: That's a pretty good first concert.

[00:02:13] Lisa Turner: Yeah.

[00:02:15] Bob: How old were you?

[00:02:16] Lisa Turner: I was probably about 8.

[00:02:19] Bob: Wow, overnight were you a concert fan then?

[00:02:22] Lisa Turner: Oh, for sure, yeah. Live music just does something. I just love, love being at live music events.

[00:02:29] Bob: Okay, so what's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a ticket to a concert?

[00:02:35] Lisa Turner: The craziest thin--, probably slept in my car overnight, I guess, you know.

[00:02:40] Bob: Well what, who was that for?

[00:02:43] Lisa Turner: Who I did sleep... Sarah McLachlan.

[00:02:45] Bob: (chuckles) And, and was that just to get in line?

[00:02:48] Lisa Turner: Yeah.

[00:02:50] Bob: And so if it was Sarah McLachlan, that a couple of years ago, right?

[00:02:54] Lisa Turner: Well yeah, we're probably going back to like early '90s.

[00:02:57] Bob: But that wasn't the only time Lisa slept outside a venue just to get in line for tickets.

[00:03:04] Bob: What did you bring, snacks? Did you bring a sleeping bag? How did that work?

[00:03:06] Lisa Turner: Yeah, you could bring snacks, sleeping bag, camping chair, a tent. You know you could usually just sit up with some friends and hopefully be one of the first people to the, to the window.

[00:03:18] Bob: I've, I've done this once or twice and I, I actually, of course, hated it while I was doing it, but now I mean it was sort of fun, right?

[00:03:25] Lisa Turner: It was. I wish, I wish we could still do that now.

[00:03:28] Bob: I wish we could still do that, yeah right, 'cause you were with your, your own people. Everybody obviously was there 'cause you liked the same act or whatnot, and you would share things. And, and the excitement of finally getting the ticket and, and this would be sometimes months in advance of the show you would do this, right?

[00:03:42] Lisa Turner: You had an opportunity to get good tickets. So like for the Sarah McLachlan show, I got 1st or 2nd row seats.

[00:03:49] Bob: Wow.

[00:03:50] Bob: Of course, camping out the night before tickets go on sale for a big show, is kind of a thing of the past now.

[00:03:58] Bob: What's different about getting a ticket for a big show today than back in the '90s for example?

[00:04:03] Lisa Turner: Back in the '90s you could call the box office and talk to somebody. You could call Ticketmaster and talk to somebody on the phone. You could go to several different box offices, 'cause Ticketmaster used to have the little you know satellite desk inside department stores and inside music stores. So you had like several different ways that you could procure tickets, and now everything is online through majority Ticketmaster, but I mean there are a few smaller, you know, online ticketing options also. But it's all online. You can't talk to anybody. There's no waiting, you know, if you're first in line, it doesn't matter.

[00:04:42] Bob: Okay, so tell me about the experience of getting a ticket to a big show today. How does that work?

[00:04:48] Lisa Turner: Like if we take the Taylor Swift concert for example, I had to register last November as a verified fan; me and you know however many million other people were trying to get tickets, and then they randomly selected from the people who registered, who even got a verified fan code to get in to the presale. I was never even thought of as a verified fan even though I purchased tickets to her previous show. I purchased merchandise from her store multiple times, like so I'm not sure what algorithms they were using, but, you know, not all the real fans were even able to buy tickets. So the first day that her tickets went on sale for Detroit, I did not have a code and could not get into the presale. The second day that she had a presale, if you had a Capital One card, you were eligible to get in. And I didn't even have a Capital One card, but my brother did, and he gave me his number because that's what family members do for each other. And I joined, I was at a doctor's appointment with my husband, and I even had to tell the specialist, at 12:45 I'm like, "At 1 o'clock, I'm not here. I'm turning my hotspot on; I'm logging into these queues with my Capital One number to try to get tickets."

[00:06:02] Bob: Were you sitting like in, in your doctor's office just using your hot spot hitting refresh for a couple of hours?

[00:06:08] Lisa Turner: Well thankfully the appointment ended before I even made it into the...

[00:06:12] Bob: Oh, thank goodness, okay.

[00:06:14] Lisa Turner: Like to the front of the queue, but I mean I had the hotspot going in the car on the drive home and then went and sat at my desk at home, literally for hours, trying to get these tickets for my daughter. And I sat for hours before I was even able to get to the spot where they would say how many, you know, how many tickets do you want? Oh, and then they would sprinkle them. So like two seats would become available, I would try to grab them, add them to my cart, and then they'd say, "Oops, those are already gone." And a couple minutes later, maybe two more would appear. I would try to grab those. "Oops, sorry, somebody else already beat you to those." That was for the Friday show. The Saturday show I never even made it out of the queue. And I mean I was probably six hours or longer of nonstop like sitting there trying to refresh, clicking, and I was not able to get tickets. It was absolutely insane.

[00:07:09] Bob: And, and just because I think there might be some people listening who've never gone through this, I mean you’re; you're just sitting at the computer, and you know maybe you can walk across the room, but you have to have one eye and one ear all the time right, in case a ticket drops or whatnot?

[00:07:23] Lisa Turner: Yes. Only I did not walk across, I would not even leave the screen because it kept releasing you know, 8 tickets at a time or something. It was every so many minutes, like a couple more tickets would drop, and you'd try to click them as quick as you can, get them in the cart, click the button, and you know, and I've been in IT for almost 30 years and I still wasn't fast enough or savvy enough to figure out how to get those tickets into my, my cart before someone else could.

[00:07:48] Bob: All right. So two days of this go by and you, you have nothing, right?

[00:07:53] Lisa Turner: Nothing.

[00:07:54] Bob: How does that feel?

[00:07:58] Lisa Turner: I mean I was very disappointed, because again, like I've never not been able to get tickets.

[00:08:03] Bob: If you aren't a big music fan, or if you don't have a teenager who's a big music fan, all this might sound a bit silly, but this isn't really about concert tickets. It's about a mom wanting to make her child's dream come true.

[00:08:20] Bob: Who were you trying to get the tickets for?

[00:08:22] Lisa Turner: I was trying to get them for my 13-year-old daughter and a couple of her friends.

[00:08:26] Bob: Are you the big fan? Is she the big fan? Are you fans together?

[00:08:30] Lisa Turner: She’s the big fan. I think she's okay, but I was okay not going. I would have rather given my ticket to another 13-year-old because in their eyes like, she is, you know, a goddess.

[00:08:41] Bob: Can, can you somehow describe or give me an example of how, how big a fan she is, your daughter?

[00:08:48] Lisa Turner: Sure, so um, a couple of months ago I punished her and I had taken her phone away and so I decided to do the parental thing and kind of scroll through it and she who she's been texting and what pictures she's been taking. And I find these pictures that she had taken selfies of herself at 11:30 on a Monday night, where she's sobbing and mascara's like running down her face. So this just like really, really struck me. I was like, what is going on? And so I asked her about it the next morning. I said, "Oh my goodness, Molly, what, what are these pictures about?" And she said, "I was listening to Taylor Swift, and I was just so upset that I am not going to the concert."

[00:09:29] Bob: Oh my God.

[00:09:30] Lisa Turner: Yeah, I mean it was heartbreaking.

[00:09:33] Bob: That's enough to make a parent do anything, right?

[00:09:36] Lisa Turner: Just about.

[00:09:39] Bob: So Lisa decides to put those ticket hunting skills to work. Remember, she's never been unable to get tickets to a show she really wanted to see.

[00:09:48] Bob: Okay, so and you've done this before. You didn't get tickets the regular way, but you figured there was a secondary market or some other way for you to get tickets. What is your strategy?

[00:09:57] Lisa Turner: It depends on how bad I want to see the show. I have bought several tickets on secondary market, but you know, I have a well-used account on StubHub. I've also used Craig's List to buy and sell tickets. Sometimes I have an extra ticket I can't use, you know, whatever. And then almost all the time, especially for these big arena shows they release tickets the day of. Like I have never not been able to buy a day of ticket if I haven't gotten one any other way except for this concert.

[00:10:24] Bob: Yeah, so again, some people may have never done this, but normally when you go on StubHub, I mean it might be an insane price, but there's always someone willing to sell tickets for some crazy price, right?

[00:10:37] Lisa Turner: Oh yeah, and there were tons of Taylor Swift tickets, but like they were you know, $150 seats that people were selling for $3000. And you know, that's where my limit was, right? Like I was not willing to spend that for my daughter to go see a show.

[00:10:52] Bob: Okay, so that's out of the question, the $3000, a new car, a mortgage on a house. Now we're, we're not doing that. So instead what, what's the, what's the, what's the next step? What's the next option?

[00:11:04] Lisa Turner: So I joined some Facebook groups for people looking for tickets and people selling tickets and I private messaged with probably 30 to 50 different people. They had tickets to sell, but I was only willing to meet them with cash and meet in person.

[00:11:19] Bob: And what happens there?

[00:11:21] Lisa Turner: I ended up finding a guy that had four tickets for sale and I texted him. He had a local phone number, so I felt good about that. 'Cause you know, a lot of these people were in different states too, right, which is just a giant red flag immediately. So this guy had a local telephone exchange, and as soon as we started texting, like he wanted to talk on the phone, and I was like, great. So we talked on the phone. His name was Kevin. I could hear his toddler in the background. We probably talked for a good 60 minutes while I purchased these tickets from him. And what he said which set my mind at ease was, "How about if I send you a ticket first, and then you can pay me for that ticket, and then I can send you a second one." And he just sounded very, very sincere and trustworthy and I like to believe the best in people, you know, so I was like, "Okay." You know he had told me he was a season ticketholder for the Lions and that you know they weren't able to, 'cause I had asked, "Why can't you send me these tickets via Ticketmaster?" And he said, "Because I've already downloaded them into the Wallet, I can't send them via Ticketmaster. Like it won't let me, it's giving my son an error." He even sent me, you know, a picture of the error message. But he said, "We have sold, you know, several of our season tickets over the years to people this way, and they get it, like they have no problems at all. Like these tickets are completely legit, like you're not going to have a problem. They're fine."

[00:13:00] Bob: And so at this point Lisa is in touch with the moms of her daughter's three friends and shares this exciting news. They discuss there's a chance something will go wrong. But all agree, the risk is worth $300.

[00:13:15] Lisa Turner: He sent the sent the tickets via Apple Wallet, so I had to get my husband's iPhone. I had never used an Apple Wallet before, but his stepson sent this ticket to my husband's Apple Wallet so it like came through with a, an attachment, and I clicked it, and it imported a ticket into the Wallet for the show. And it looked very good. And so I felt okay with sending him the first payment. And so we went through that four times. I purchased four tickets from him.

[00:13:47] Bob: How did you send the money to Kevin?

[00:13:49] Lisa Turner: Venmo.

[00:13:50] Bob: Okay, and you sent, you sent $300 first, and then one more $900 transaction? Is that right?

[00:13:56] Lisa Turner: Nope, so he sent me ticket number 1, and then I sent him 300. Then he sent me ticket number 2; I sent him another 300. He sent me ticket number 3; I sent him another one. And then he sent me ticket number 4 and I sent him the last payment.

[00:14:11] Bob: Okay, got it. Four separate transactions.

[00:14:13] Lisa Turner: Yep.

[00:14:15] Bob: And just like that, Lisa has four tickets to the hottest show of the summer. That day they get the girls together to share the great news -- they're going to see Taylor Swift on Friday night! There are screams of joy, and it's only slight exaggeration that the screams are so loud that a neighbor hears that Lisa has worked her ticket magic and got four seats for the Friday show and asks, is there any chance Kevin has tickets for Saturday? And in fact, he says he does, the same four seats for the second night of Taylor Swift.

[00:14:48] Lisa Turner: My neighbor wanted to buy all four tickets herself, and I just started to feel really like, I don't know, I'm not sure about this. You know, 'cause he was all ready to do the second transaction with me. It was the next day at this point, and I called a friend of mine who's like a real techy guy, and I'm like, "What do you, you know, I know you use all the Apple gadgets." I'm like, "I bought these tickets. They're in the Apple Wallet, I've never used the Apple Wallet," you know, "What do you know about it?" And he was like, "That sounds kind of fishy, you know, I would try to call Ticketmaster," and then, once again, like I said, you can't even call Ticketmaster. I opened a ticket, and nobody ever even got back to me. So I decided to drive down to the venue with the tickets, 'cause it was still the day before the show. And I, like definitely did not want to put my neighbor on the line for, for $1200 until I knew for sure this was, 'cause I just started to have a weird sense about it, you know.

[00:15:43] Bob: Hmm, hmm.

[00:15:44] Lisa Turner: And I even told Kevin I was doing this. Like we were still in communication, 'cause he knew I wanted the neighbor's tickets, and he was like, "Yeah, no problem." Like, "You're going to find out that they're totally legit, you know."

[00:15:56] Bob: So Lisa drives all the way down to Ford Field.

[00:16:00] Lisa Turner: And I got down there, and it took them at least 20 minutes, maybe closer to 30, like they've got supervisors in, they were checking on several different computer systems, like trying to figure out, they had never seen anything like it.

[00:16:14] Bob: Never seen anything like these four fake tickets that looked so real.

[00:16:21] Lisa Turner: They said these are the best fakes they had ever seen, but that they would not get my daughter into the show. And they had asked me to text Kevin to find out whose name the season tickets were under, and sure enough, no answer. You know. And then they'd asked me another question and I texted him, and no reply. And after that, he never answered the phone again.

[00:16:44] Bob: Okay, so at that moment when your fingers are crossed behind your back hoping they're going to tell you good news and they tell you bad news, what was your reaction?

[00:16:54] Lisa Turner: I was just sick to my stomach because unfortunately we had told the girls the night before that we had tickets.

[00:17:01] Bob: How did the girls take it?

[00:17:05] Lisa Turner: Oh, they were beyond devastated. They had gone through like the whole day of school being on cloud nine, telling their friends they were so excited, like so pumped up, planning their outfits, like it was like the best news ever, and to come home and find out they couldn't go, I mean it, it was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever had to see, you know.

[00:17:27] Bob: Um, and...

[00:17:28] Lisa Turner: And I felt totally responsible for all four of those little girls’ hearts, because I was the one that like went and found Kevin and did this, you know.

[00:17:36] Bob: Of course, of course. Were the other moms understanding?

[00:17:39] Lisa Turner: Oh they totally were. You know and thank, thank goodness for them, 'cause you know I was sobbing like the next morning, like just, just felt horrible. I went and lost money of three of my friends, right, broke four little girls' hearts, like how could I let this happen? And, and the one mom texted me, 'cause I, you know, I sent a big sobby text to the moms. Like I'm so, so sorry that this happened, you guys. Like I feel horrible. And Kevin was originally asking $330 a ticket, and I had talked him down to $300. And one of the mom's wrote and said, "Well, we're really glad you talked him down to $300." And I just appreciated that, like, so much in that moment, right. I mean I needed that.

[00:18:22] Bob: So that day as the girls are at school, Lisa and her friends are so angry about the whole situation that one of them starts calling local television stations to explain what happened. WDIV TV jumps at the chance to tell the girls' story. In fact, the news opens that night with a live shot outside Ford Field as Taylor Swift's concert rages on and a reporter tells the girls' story of why they're not inside.

[00:18:50] (newsclip) There was crying when we found out we got them, and then crying when we found out we have them. Yeah.

[00:18:57] Bob: So while it seems everyone in Detroit is dancing to Taylor Swift, the girls are at home watching themselves on TV. It's a sad night, but they have no way of knowing how their fortunes will change yet again the next morning. I'll get to that in a moment. But before we do, we wanted to bring in someone who has actually studied concert ticket scams, all kinds of scams, really. Teresa Murray of the Public Interest Research Group does what she can to get the word out about new scams.

[00:19:29] Teresa Murray: I oftentimes tell people that my job is to bang pots and pans to draw attention to problems that are out there. But in order to say that something's a problem, you have to actually figure out that yes, it is a problem. So whether we're looking at say unresolved airline complaints to the Department of Transportation, we have to do the research and look at the volume of complaints that are filed and how it compares to years past. And then, then we advocate for change, you know what needs to be done to fix this.

[00:19:59] Bob: Okay, so speaking of banging pots and pans, I saw recently that you did a report on concert tickets. What was that report about?

[00:20:09] Teresa Murray: Yeah, basically what we did was look at all of the instances of complaints out there. And this was in the springtime with a lot of hot concerts out there being scheduled for the spring and summer and fall, and you know really concertgoers and people who were just wanting a social outlet, we lost like three years, and you know 2020 and 2021, a lot of things were cancelled. A lot of concerts and other kinds of entertainment venues didn't really get started back in 2022 for different reasons, and so this is like the first, you know, quote-unquote normal year that we've had in entertainment since 2019. So we were seeing a huge pent-up demand among consumers, and so we were hearing reports about consumers falling prey to various scams when all they're trying to do is go see their favorite band, you know. You know, and maybe buy tickets for their spouse or their kids and go see this act. And they're just trying to have a good time and they end up getting hurt.

[00:21:14] Bob: Most ticket scams follow a familiar pattern, Teresa says.

[00:21:18] Teresa Murray: One of the most common ways that we see is somebody will see a listing on say, Craig's List or Facebook Marketplace for, you know, oh hey, I have two tickets to this thing, and you know call me. So in some cases they may actually, they, they could have genuine tickets and send someone a picture of like real tickets that really exist and really have a barcode, and then they could say, yeah, it's going to cost you $1000 for these two tickets. Send me the money through Cash App or Zelle. Usually Cash App or something else, or even gift cards sometimes because it's a little less traceable. And then, then the person never sends the tickets, okay? Or they do send something, they're just something that someone created use--, using Photoshop. In other cases they may say, they may pose as like a ticket broker, and say, okay, you know, I can get you two tickets in this section, how does that look? Is that good? Okay, go ahead and give me your Mastercard or VISA number, get all the information, you know including the, the CVV code, and the zip code, and of course there are no tickets. And they may, they'll use that information to go out and make other purchases as quickly as possible before the card gets shut down for fraud.

[00:22:39] Bob: Why does it at least seem to me like concert ticket scams have exploded in the past year?

[00:22:43] Teresa Murray: I mean it's all about supply and demand, okay, but it's about desperation. You know a lot of cases some of these acts that are touring this year, of course everybody wants to go see Taylor Swift. You've got Beyonce, you've got like The Cure, Blink 182, you've got Janet Jackson, you've got Depeche Mode. So there's, you know, there's some country artists, there's really a wide array of artists that people want to go see, and again, a lot of these folks for various reasons haven't toured in many years, and so you've got this huge demand for tickets, and then like I said, a lot of people have a, have a desire to go out and have anything that resembles fun anyway. And you, with the concert tickets in particular, it's oftentimes viewed as like a once in a lifetime experience. I mean certainly for anybody who had tickets to say Elton John's Farewell, Farewell Tour, you know he's, he's, he says he's not touring anymore. And Taylor Swift, I think she last toured in like 2017 or something, and so this would be a parent's, you know, one chance to take their teenage girl to go see Taylor Swift most likely, particularly if she were touring in a, in a city that was close by to them. And so people view it as like, here is my one chance. I have, I have been a fan of this artist for forever, and they're coming to my city, or they're coming to a city a couple of hours from me. I am going to make it happen. But then, of course, really regardless of the artist, I mean this has happened in a lot of cases, either the tickets have helped, have sold out incredibly quickly, or the tickets are expensive, and people think, oh gosh, you know, even if tickets were available, I can't afford that price. Maybe I can find something on the secondary market to make my boyfriend happy, my kid happy, whatever. And so it's basically the intersection of this exclusive opportunity to go see this artist and being you know just, people just pulling out all the stops to try and make it happen. And when you have something like that happen, you have desperation, you have the emotions that go into it. Desperate people sometimes make bad decisions. I mean the common thread here is you know individual people who for whatever reason are desperate, and there's also an urgency to it. With the concert tickets, it's like okay, either you make a decision to buy these tickets or you know somebody else is going to buy them in seconds, okay. So it's, you know, people are desperate, there's a time element to it, and urgency to it that you’ve got to act now. That doesn't give them time to actually think about it.

[00:25:30] Bob: It's, it's like concerts bring together all the elements we always tell people to avoid.

[00:25:35] Teresa Murray: Yes. Yes.

[00:25:38] Bob: Part of the reason ticket scams are more common is that technology does seem to enable some of these crimes.

[00:25:44] Teresa Murray: The technology that's available to bad guys today, is so much more advanced than it was just a few years ago. I mean, for example, if you were to just type into a search engine, Google or your favorite search engine, and say you were looking for tickets to Taylor Swift or Beyonce or whoever, and you just typed in Taylor Swift tickets, you know, Cincinnati, she just was in Cincinnati recently. You know you're going to come across a number of websites, some of which may not even be legitimate websites. So like I had pointed out in the piece that we did, is you could, you could create a fake domain, an imposter URL, using Ticketmaster.com but instead of the "I" in Ticket, it's actually if, if you were going to put it into you know like an email or whatever, it's actually a lowercase "L." Well there's no way for you to tell that, okay. And so bad guys can create fake websites, use the Ticketmaster or whatever, venue logos, the colors, the interface, everything looks just the same, but it's not the real website. In other cases, it's incredibly easy to spoof phone numbers, and either to make it seem like you're calling from, or that somebody's calling you in a city where you are not located, or if they want to call you, make it seem like that they're calling from you know, Ticketmaster or this stadium or that stadium. And you know that was technology that didn't exist all that many years ago. And then the other thing that's probably elevated now is the easy access to P2P platforms with like you know Zelle and Venmo and PayPal, Cash App. I mean those have been around for a while, but people have just gotten that much better at them and it's a lot easier to set up accounts and use middlemen to kind of uh launder the money. You know, in addition to the fact that anybody can place ads or place listings on Craig's List, Facebook Marketplace, a number of other platforms that are out there.

[00:27:58] Bob: While this is a far cry from the days of looking for a scalper holding up a handful of tickets for sale outside a venue a few minutes before the show...

[00:28:07] Teresa Murray: You know you talked about back in the good old days, not that long ago when there were paper tickets. And I know one of the things that you could do in some cities, especially with like sporting events, but if there was a paper ticket that you bought from, you know some scalper off the corner, you could go to the box office, like with you know with the seller; go to the box office and have them scan the ticket to make sure that it's legit. And you could do that before you exchanged money. But it's very rare you see paper tickets these days.

[00:28:38] Bob: The victims of online ticket scams suffer from more than just missing out on a once in a lifetime show.

[00:28:46] Teresa Murray: And they're all unfortunate, they're all sad, because you know it's, it's worse than just a normal scam because these people who are victims were really hoping that they were going to have so much fun, they were so looking forward to this event. We've certainly heard from people that the concerts are in a different city, they'll make a hotel reservation, and they'll actually go there, and it won't be until they get to the venue and they show this barcode or QR code on their phone that supposedly represents their ticket, that's when they find out that it's all, that it's all fake, that it's all a scam. And they're just devastated.

[00:29:25] Bob: Of course Lisa Turner's daughter and her three friends are all devastated. The girls and the moms all go to bed that night feeling pretty miserable until...

[00:29:38] Lisa Turner: The next morning, or maybe around lunchtime, I received a phone call from the Director of Ticketing of the touring group. And somebody had tipped them off that this happened, and I was notified that an anonymous donor purchased four tickets (chokes up) ... I get emotional. I was just like; I could not even believe it. So basically somebody somehow sent four tickets through this touring group to our girls, so they got to go.

[00:30:11] Bob: Wow. Now, your first reaction was, this is another scam, right?

[00:30:16] Lisa Turner: I mean it was.

[00:30:19] Bob: So Lisa again contacts the groups of moms.

[00:30:23] Lisa Turner: I'm like, we might be getting tickets. Like, 'cause I still didn't 100% believe it, you know, and then they didn't believe it either.

[00:30:29] Bob: Okay, how did you get the tickets?

[00:30:32] Lisa Turner: They emailed them to me ...

[00:30:35] Bob: And at what point do you say, on again, off again, on again to the girls?

[00:30:40] Lisa Turner: We ended up doing like a second reveal.

[00:30:42] Bob: I'm sure as they were walking up to the ticket booth they were still wondering if these were real, right? But they, but they got through. Did, did they text you right away?

[00:30:51] Lisa Turner: Well two of the moms took them down there, and so they walked them up to the gate, and I mean the girls just like jumped in the air and celebrated when, when their tickets actually scanned, and they got through, you know. Then, then they knew for real like that this was happening, and they were actually going to be able to go.

[00:31:10] Bob: And that's quite a happy ending. How was the show?

[00:31:13] Lisa Turner: Amazing. So I hear. I saw, I saw lots of videos and, and pictures. I mean a lifetime of memories for them. I was very grateful.

[00:31:23] Bob: Grateful. But now this veteran concertgoer is a bit more cautious.

[00:31:28] Teresa Murray: I mean I; I don't think I'll ever stop going to going to shows, but I definitely will not be as trusting of purchasing tickets directly from sellers without using StubHub and adding their fees onto it, unfortunately.

[00:31:45] Bob: But those fees are expensive. And you know I, I don't know, it's just my opinion, I do think that these high fees are a part of the reason that people are forced into these alternatives where the criminals live.

[00:31:58] Lisa Turner: Well it clearly is. I mean because the average American cannot afford $1200 a ticket to go see any concert.

[00:32:06] Bob: Lisa's ending was even happier still. Because she funded the P2P payments she sent to the criminal with her bank account, her bank credited her back for the fraud. So in the end, the kids got to see Taylor Swift, and she wasn't out any money. But unfortunately, most concert ticket scam stories don't have a happy ending like this. So Teresa has advice for concertgoers.

[00:32:31] Teresa Murray: You shouldn't buy tickets from somebody that you don't actually know; a coworker, a relative, a really good friend, even if it's like, okay, your brother's best friend, that's the only way you should buy tickets from an individual, not Facebook Marketplace, not Craig's List, not by googling whatever you're googling, and then if you can't find any through your network of people, then consider going through the, you know, the more reputable secondary sellers. So you've got the Vivid Seats, you've got Seat Geek, you know, those kinds of things, because StubHub, and of course Ticketmaster on their secondary market, there is a legitimacy there, and you are far less likely to encounter fraud if you're buying through those companies.

[00:33:20] Bob: And Teresa stresses, sometimes the concert tickets are just unavailable.

[00:33:26] Teresa Murray: If you're really trying to buy tickets to a concert, or whatever,  and you really want to make your teenage daughter happy or your spouse happy, and the surprise birthday gift or whatever, and you've tried and tried, and you can't, then don't just like say, oh, well, I'll give it a shot. I'll take a chance, because it's, it's, you just make a decision not to go to the concert. You know do something else to buy, buy that person a, a t-shirt or a, an autographed poster or something, or you know go, arrange to go watch, sometimes they have like, they'll air concerts on some of the streaming stations. Just make the decision to not go to the concert because a lot of times you'll spend a lot of time trying to sort out fraud and trying to get you know your money, hundreds or thousands of dollars back.

[00:34:21] Bob: And one more piece of advice. Before you buy, talk.

[00:34:26] Teresa Murray: If you are thinking about buying something, then just take a minute and call a trusted friend, call a relative. Talk to a coworker, talk to somebody from your church. Make a phone call and say, "Hey, here's what I'm thinking about doing," or "Here's this phone call that I got," or "Here's this ad that I saw. What do you think?" And a lot of times just saying it out loud will make people realize, hmm, this kind of sounds like trouble, and hopefully people can avoid getting hurt.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:35:04] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Our email address at The Perfect Scam is: theperfectscampodcast@aarp.org. And we want to hear from you. If you've been the victim of a scam or you know someone who has, and you'd like us to tell their story, write to us or just send us some feedback. That address again is: theperfectscampodcast@aarp.org. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Associate Producer, Annalea Embree; Researcher, Sarah Binney; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; and our Audio Engineer and Sound Designer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan.

(MUSIC OUTRO)

END OF TRANSCRIPT

Lisa is an avid concertgoer with extensive experience buying and selling tickets online. So when pop megastar Taylor Swift announces she’s coming to town, Lisa is determined to find the highly sought-after tickets for her teenage daughter and her three friends. After messaging dozens of online ticket sellers and weeding out apparent scams, she finally finds a local man selling four tickets. She is reassured when he offers to transfer the tickets to her via Apple Wallet before receiving payment. The tickets look great, and the girls are overjoyed. When a friend raises suspicions, Lisa drives to the box office to verify the tickets only to discover that they are very convincing fakes.

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