Ticket scam targeting Illini fans

Published 11/30 2012 09:53PM

Updated 12/03 2012 10:30AM

CHAMPAIGN -- A hot start has turned the Illini Men's basketball team into a hot ticket. Now scammers are ready for people to buy into their latest trick.

One fan showed up to last Wednesdays' game with his tickets, but traded up with someone outside Assembly Hall for better seats. Once he got to the gate, he learned the hard way about a scam most fans haven't heard of yet.

The Illinois basketball team has become an instant cure helping fans still ailing from a rough football season.

"The Illini have started out 8-0, people are really excited and we're starting to get a lot more people buying tickets from us right now," said Jason Heggemeyer, Assistant Athletic Director of Ticketing.

A lot of it is happening online. This is the first season the Illini ticket office is letting people buy tickets with a few mouse clicks.

"Customers like it, you don't have to wait in line anymore, you can buy tickets any time of day from your home computer, and print them out on your own," he said.

But it's not just popular with customers. Scam artists are trying to cash in. At Wednesday's Georgia Tech game, police say more than $4,000 dollars in fraudulent tickets tried to pass through the doors.

"In this certain specific situation it was someone who used a stolen credit card to buy tickets that we caught ahead of time and were able to deactivate the tickets," said Heggemeyer.

And that's not the only trick up scammers' sleeves. Heggemeyer says some will simply photo copy the print-out and sell as many as they can.

"If you're going to purchase tickets from somewhere other than the Illinois ticket office, you really should do it with someone with either know or trust. Otherwise we always say, 'buyer beware,'" said Heggemeyer.

"It sounds like good advice but I'm sure people will ignore it and get scammed," said basketball fan Andrew Sibert, who was buying his ticket at the ticket office.

If a scanned ticket doesn't work at the gate, the box office will at least research the bar code to find out why it isn't working. That's usually how they determine a fan was scammed.

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