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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -
Individual tickets for Wednesday's American League Wild Card game were sold out shortly after the Tribe's victory on Sunday. That doesn't mean tickets aren't still being sold online by ticket brokers and private sellers. Craigslist alone had many tickets offered for sale Monday morning. Better Business Bureau is warning fans to beware of potential scams by fake ticket sellers.
The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the stadium, on the street or through online auctions, classified ads and bulletin boards.
The secondary market for sporting and entertainment tickets is estimated at about $10 billion a year. It includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers as well as those purchased and resold by speculators and season ticket holders. Tickets purchased for sports and entertainment events are the source of hundreds of BBB complaints by consumers nationwide.
"Fans hoping to catch Wednesday's game are easy targets for scammers," said BBB President David Weiss. "The Internet is home base for criminals hoping to make big bucks selling counterfeit tickets or by taking cash and providing nothing."
The BBB's database of BBB Business Reviews includes reputable, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit-card numbers so the site can charge a seller's card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets.
The BBB offers the following advice for fans seeking tickets:
Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren't real, the seller will be long gone.
Before buying from an online ticket broker, be sure to check the BBB Business Review on the company at cleveland.bbb.org <http://cleveland.bbb.org>, where you can read customer reviews and the company's record for responding to complaints. Research the seller online by searching the phone number and/or email address of the seller to see if negative reviews have been posted.
Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by "https://" at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
If you are buying from a reseller, find one associated with the original ticket seller or the venue. You may pay more for the tickets, but buying from a legitimate reseller minimizes the likelihood of buying counterfeit tickets.
If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a well-known site such as Paypal to alternative online payment sites that may be fake.
If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, use payment methods that come with buyer protections. If possible, use credit cards or trusted e-commerce sites that provide accounts you can use to make purchases instead of using banking information.Never pay with a cashier's check or wire money to a seller; you'll have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive.