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Arts industry officials create website to protect consumers from fake concert and event tickets

(Garth Brooks, who is scheduled to perform at Rice-Eccles Stadium July 17. Photo: Associated Press, file, July 2014)

SALT LAKE CITY – This weekend’s Garth Brooks concert has arts industry insiders warning about scammers trying to sell fake tickets. 

They’re also reminding ticket buyers about new resources available to protect themselves from being tricked.

If you search sites like StubHub and Vividseats, you may find tickets to Garth Brooks’ concert at Rice-Eccles Stadium for around $50. However, some have told KSL that they’ve seen tickets selling for $25 on lesser known websites and online classified ads.

Officials with the Utah Cultural Alliance say that price is likely too good to be true, and in their eyes, it’s likely a scam.

It isn’t just the larger concerts and sporting events that bring out the fraudsters. Egyptian Theater in Park City Marketing Manager Dan Radford said it happens at smaller theaters, too.

“We are at risk in here in Salt Lake because we have such a high arts influence, here,” Radford said.

Speculative buying

One frequent scam in Utah is called “speculative buying,” when scammers use computer programs called bots to buy large numbers of tickets more quickly than the average customer can. Then the tickets are sold at greatly increased prices. 

Sometimes scammers will promise tickets they don’t actually have.  For instance, the Broadway musical Hamilton is returning to the Eccles Theater and Salt Lake County Division of Arts and Culture Director Matthew Castillo says tickets are not available, yet.

“You can go online to fraudulent or deceptive second-market ticket sellers and you can find tickets for Hamilton for much higher than you will be able to purchase them when they do go on sale this fall,” Castillo said.

This kind of “speculative buying” happened to the Deer Valley Music Festival.  Utah Cultural Alliance Executive Director Crystal Young-Otterstrom said The Temptations with the Utah Symphony concert sold out before the bots had a chance to snatch up all the tickets.

“When [the show with] The Temptations sold out, they couldn’t deliver on those tickets, they started listing the show as ‘cancelled,’ which it’s not,” she said.

The Alliance is launching SafeTixUT.com, which has tips that can help people avoid paying a lot of money for tickets to nowhere.

“It also links you back, easily, to the Consumer Protection website to report fraud if you are defrauded.  It’s up to a $2,500 fine per violation,” Young-Otterstrom said.

Some of those tips include…

  • Do not purchase tickets to events before the official on sale/pre-sale date as they are most likely fraudulent
  • Ideally, tickets should be purchased through an authorized ticket seller such as NowPlayingUtah.com, ArtTix.org, or Ticketmaster.com
  • When purchasing in the secondary market, look to sites like StubHub that self police instead of classifieds or social media
  • Purchase tickets primarily using either a credit or debit card
  • If fraud has occurred, consumers can file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection by visiting https://dcp.utah.gov/ and clicking on “File a Complaint.”