The Craigslist ad seemed promising enough. Four tickets to game two of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Dugout seats. Four-hundred dollars apiece. Not bad, considering the astronomical prices many tickets were fetching elsewhere.
So a Lenexa woman decided to make the purchase, even after the seller proposed a number of curious requests. Instead of using PayPal, for instance, the Craigslist seller convinced the woman to purchase a Vanilla Reload card from CVS and add half of the cost of the tickets onto the card.
You can guess the rest. No tickets, but a payment of $750.
As the World Series moves toward what could be a dramatic conclusion at Kauffman Stadium this week, local police are preparing for a final push from ticket scammers.
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As expected, this year’s World Series between the Royals and San Francisco Giants has drawn a collection of con artists to the city, and police have this advice:
▪ Purchasing tickets from anyone other than the team or a verified ticket broker leaves fans susceptible.
▪ If you do purchase tickets from somewhere other than a reputable source, you should know the person you’re dealing with.
▪ And if you don’t, make sure to obtain a license plate number or valid phone number from the person selling the tickets to better enable authorities to track the person later, if necessary.
But more than anything, common sense can serve as the best antidote, said Gary Mason, a spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department.
“The old addage applies: If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is,” he said.
Police already have seen plenty of scams.
Last week, Overland Park police arrested four out-of-town individuals, who they said either sold or tried to sell fake World Series tickets.
Working with local law enforcement, meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security have been involved in the interception or seizure of 139 counterfeit tickets, — resulting in an estimated $83,000 in false tickets being removed from the market, assistant special agent Gilbert Trill said Monday.
Among the different scams local law enforcement officials have heard of just in the last week or two: People who had been sold fake or counterfeit tickets; victims who had purchased tickets with invalid bar codes; and, in some cases, victims who were directed to pick up tickets they had purchased at will call, only to find nothing waiting when they got there.
Meanwhile, thanks to the Internet and social media,many scammers don’t ever have to set foot near the stadium. One method has been convincing sellers to send money via a prepaid card, which can be difficult for authorities to trace.
In the case of the Lenexa woman who purchased a Vanilla Reload card, she was told to give the seller the card’s PIN, at which point he would email the tickets. But when she sent the card’s personal identification number, the tickets never arrived. When she tried to call the seller back, no one answered.
“He’s gone,” said the woman’s husband, who recounted the story by phone recently but asked that the family’s names not be used.
“That’s what these people do,” said Mason of the Overland Park police, whose department had received eight reports of ticket scamming through Monday morning. “They’re good at it, they know how to fool people and they have a trail of victims everywhere they go.”
All of it has left some would-be ticket-holders feeling foolish — particularly when you consider that tickets are currently selling for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars online.
But while many of the scams seem to raise obvious red flags, multiple law enforcement officials point out that the excitement of attending a Royals World Series game — particularly after almost three decades without a playoff berth — might be responsible for some of the lapses in judgment.
Said Sgt. Rob Rickett with the Kansas City Police Department’s fraud division: “You’re so excited to go to the game, or get the opportunity, that you kind of look past the obvious.”