Be careful with ticket scalper sites -


Be careful with ticket scalper sites

If you're just Googling for a ticket, you could be asking for trouble. Third-party ticket resellers love search engines. All they have to do is buy an ad on Google or Yahoo that puts their link at the top of the page and looks just enough like the real venue.

Then boom: They're snaring consumers like Libba Ellington.

Ellington didn't know The Orpheum Theatre's web address by heart, so she Googled it to hunt for tickets to an upcoming show. The first site that popped up was Box Office Memphis.

To her, it sounded local - like The Orpheum's box office. But it wasn't. Ellington wished she knew, because she plugged in her credit card and bought four tickets for about $53 a piece.

When the tickets arrived, their face value was $15 a piece.

"I felt like, at that point, I had been taken advantage of," said Ellington.

Box Office Memphis is really Secure Box Office based in Mercer Island, Washington.

Teresa Ward, vice president of ticket sales for The Orpheum Theatre, said Aaron and Aileen Song of Song Entertainment run Secure Box Office. Ward said they set up dozens of secondary market web sites made to look like they're stationed in any city:  Box Office Atlanta, Box Office Seattle, etc.

The Songs didn't return our attempts to reach them. Ward's not surprised.

"Sites (like Box Office Memphis) use 'robots' to buy tickets from the actual venue," said Ward. "They can actually grab up the first few rows in a minute's time. We can't tell when someone's gobbling up blocks of tickets because they will use different names or same name, different addresses, different credit cards."

Ward said sometimes, an unauthorized ticket reseller doesn't even have possession of the tickets it's advertising. It uses what Ward calls "speculative ticketing" to see just how much buyers will pay before the broker grabs stacks of tickets.

That's assuming the broker actually buys the tickets. Ward said a friend found that out when he bought show tickets from a broker he thought The Orpheum had authorized.

"And he never got the tickets," Ward said. "He was buying 'speculative tickets' without knowing it. They never had the tickets."


* A venue's legitimate site or its authorized ticket site will always say, "The official site..." A scalper site may say "official tickets" or "official vendor," but it cannot say "official site" under violation of law, according to The Orpheum's Vice President of Ticket Sales, Teresa Ward.

* CODE WORDS/PHRASES. Third-party resale sites will say "not affiliated with venue," "secondary market" or "resale marketplace."

* MISSPELLINGS. Scalper sites tend to be loose with their spelling. We found one that spelled official "offiicial." Some will say "theater" when the official venue spells it "theatre."

* MISSING SEAT LOCATIONS. Resale sites often do not reveal the tickets' seat locations. That's because some sites don't actually have the tickets in their inventory yet.

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