About 80 percent of Super Bowl tickets are sold in the two weeks leading up to the big game. And in the rush to buy, experts say counterfeiters are getting ready to take advantage of excited football fans.
The NFL did not release this year’s ticket artwork until recently, so counterfeiters would not have enough time to copy the exact design. Plus, parts of the tickets are covered up in photos to hide security features, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.
“The technology in printing some of the counterfeit tickets is amazing,” said Better Business Bureau CEO Steve McFarland, who says his Silicon Valley office is expecting dozens of complaints about “phony tickets, phony brokers – a lot of different situations for the upcoming Super Bowl.”
Counterfeit tickets are an issue at every Super Bowl, but the Department of Homeland Security believes the problem is growing as scam artists get better at copying holograms and codes.
McFarland says there are ways to tell if a ticket is fake: “smeared numbers, smeared barcodes, white out, crossed-out information, inferior materials, inferior paper.”
Sites such as StubHub estimate less than 1 percent of tickets are fake, but when prices are so steep the resale ticket company says they are taking extra precautions.
“The cheapest ticket right now on StubHub is around $4,000 – that’s for upper level seats. There are prices that go up to $20-25,000 for club-level suites,” StubHub spokesman Cameron Papp said, explaining the company’s inspectors check every ticket by hand using black lights and heat lamps.
“Every ticket from a seller has to be sent in to stub hub by next week before the Super Bowl. We have a trust and safety team that goes through every single ticket, and then the buyer picks up their ticket on Super Bowl Sunday. There are no electronic tickets,” he said.
About 90 percent of Super Bowl tickets are not sold through StubHub, which gives customers a guarantee. However, McFarland says there are websites where buyers can research sellers first:
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also says to make sure you’re buying from a secure website that begins with “https” – “the ‘s’ is for secure,” McFarland said, explaining there are sites that mirror legitimate websites but divert unsuspecting buyers to other sites where they input personal information.
“For counterfeit tickets there’s a potential to lose twice. First, by not getting the valid ticket. Second, you’ve now given up personal information, financial information,” McFarland said.
Then, there’s game day, when schemers can hatch elaborate plans to resell already used tickets, according to the BBB. Scammers take real tickets, drop them down to people outside the stadium, who in turn give them to scalpers to sell.
“Then when you take your ticket to be scanned, of course, it’s going to reject,” McFarland said, explaining this scheme has been executed at nearby AT&T Park.