Recently I've attended events where I've sat next to someone who paid double the price for the seats right next to me because they unknowingly purchased their seats from a secondary seller. Just this week the Four Seasons Theatre Facebook account became the target of fake profiles trying to resell tickets to our current show. As an audience member who just wants to support arts organizations and venues, how can you tell the difference between a legitimate seller and a scam?
Scam #1: Fake Facebook bots trying to "resell" tickets
On Wednesday I shared that both matinees for the Four Seasons Theatre production of ALL IS CALM were nearly sold out. It was a pretty standard post and a model that I've used countless times over the past 10+ years of promoting events on social media. (Image, below left)
But, this time something very strange happened. Within minutes, people started commenting that they had tickets for sale. Posts ranged from the innocuous "4 tickets for sale" to others like "available for sale at a lower price from the original" to "trying to recuperate losses." (Image, below right)
Red flags went up immediately as the tickets for this particular show are only $20 or $35. Trying to recuperate losses on a pair of $20 tickets? This isn't HAMILTON. As I clicked on one post profile after another, it became clear that these were all fake accounts trying to scam people out of their money. For those unfamiliar with this kind of spam - the scammer promises to send the tickets electronically after you send them money by Venmo or Paypal or some other electronic method.
Tip #1: Only buy resale tickets from a person that you actually know.
Scam #2: Ticket resale websites
The second ticket scam that has gained popularity is outside ticket companies giving the appearance that they are the venue where a show will actually take place.
When tickets go on sale for an event, the "secondary market" sites use ticket bots to gobble up seats so that company can then resell them at a higher rate later on. (This is why Ticketmaster and venue box offices often limit the number of seats you can purchase and/or offer presale codes that must be entered manually.)
For example, depending on what words you search, someone searching for tickets to see the tour of HADESTOWN at the Overture Center in January 2023 could end up with a Google Search that includes links to buy tickets via Overture Center, "Madison Theatre," Stubhub, VividSeats, Seat Geek, TicketSmarter, and more. The non-venue websites are sophisticated with a map of the theater, photos of the venue, and more.
Someone looking for tickets could easily mistake the "secondary market" website for the actual venue one - especially if the link is a paid ad that pops up as the first Google search result. Using these alternate sites can result in the customer either 1) paying a lot more for a ticket or 2) losing their money as the site takes their credit card info and never delivers a valid ticket.
Tip #2: To buy tickets for a show, go directly to the venue website, find the event listing on the venue website, and purchase directly from the venue box office.
In closing, take your time when ordering tickets and be aware that ticket bots, scammers, and resellers aren't only targeting big mega-hits like Broadway musicals and pop stars. Any ticketed event can be hit so consumers need to be careful and should always make sure to purchase tickets directly through the venue box office. Avoid secondary sellers and only trust individuals that you know personally if you're going to purchase from another person.