Watch Out for March Madness Ticket Scams

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Watch Out for March Madness Ticket Scams

March Madness is nearly here, and that means tickets for the final games are going to be selling out quickly. Whether you want to go to a few regional games or you’re hoping to score tickets for the Final Four, you might find yourself turning to third-party sites like Craigslist if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the official NCAA website.

While the ticket offers you find on these sites may seem legitimate, there’s a possibility that you could be getting ripped off by a scammer.

Tickets scams are nothing new, but they’ve only proliferated in the digital age. In fact, fake, cancelled, and otherwise invalid ticket sales is one of the most common Craigslist scams.

Types of Ticket Scams to Watch For

Fake Tickets

Part of the reason scammers get away with selling fake tickets online is that they aren’t using fake tickets all the time. They might have one set of legitimate tickets and sell those same seats to multiple buyers, which makes it hard to know that you’re being scammed.

Other fraudsters design tickets that look extremely official. They’ll throw the trademarked logo on it, a barcode, and seat numbers. Even checking the seating chart on the official NCAA website to see which seats are taken and which are still available for sale may be of little value, as the scammer may claim that they purchased these seats but can no longer make it to the game that day, or their team didn’t do as well as they’d hoped and they’re willing to part with the tickets.

Fake Purchase Protection

Say you do buy some tickets, real or fake, and you get a follow-up email. It may look official, as if it came from Craigslist or another classified ad website, and it’s offering to help you protect your purchase for a fee. Know that this too is a part of the scam and don’t buy into it; Craigslist is just a marketplace where people can exchange goods or services. The site itself doesn’t offer purchase protection. Yet, every year, buyers continue to fall for such purchase protection scams.

It is worth noting, though, that if you pay a seller through a secure payment platform like PayPal, you may be able to protect your purchase by classifying it as a Goods and Services payment.

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Tips for Spotting Ticket Scams

Various legitimate sites reference some helpful tips on how to avoid ticket scams, such as by exclusively buying directly from the official NCAA website (and make certain that it includes a .com at the end of the domain name). Ticket fraudsters may try to fool you with a similar-looking website that has a slightly different URL.

If you missed out on the real sale of tickets and you have to purchase from a third-party, it’s wise to check them out first to make sure they’re credible. Typically, ticket vendors with positive histories and ratings, and who belong to a trade organization like the National Association of Ticket Brokers, are more likely to be reliable and legitimate than an anonymous, uncertified third party.

Also, be advised that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is or may well be. Tickets for these end-of-the-season games are hard to come by, so you should expect a seller’s market rather than a seeming giveaway.  

Perhaps infinitely worse than not getting tickets to the game you want to see live is getting fake tickets, going to the venue, and finding out at the gate that you can’t get in. Do your due diligence with a bit of research to better reduce your risk of disappointment.

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Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

About the author

Justin Lavelle

Justin Lavelle is the social media director and blogger for BeenVerified.com. He is based out of Northern Virginia.