I go to a lot of concerts. Like, a lot of concerts. I typically attend at least one a week, most of the time more than that. Luckily, because of the path I have chosen in life, I attend nearly all of these concerts for free and am often compensated, in some way, to be there.
Obviously, that is not the case for everyone who attends these shows, meaning hundreds and sometimes thousands of people around me are spending their hard earned money to see their favorite artists live.
Before attending most of these shows, I like to do some preliminary research, sometimes because it’s my job, other times because I’m just weird that way. I look up setlist information, see if there are any openers or not, and take some time to peruse Facebook event pages that every concert these days establishes.
On these pages, the typical “What are the set times?” “When are doors?” “When is ____ going on?” “Who’s the opener?” and my personal favorite, “Anyone know the set times?” questions take up a large portion of the discussion forum.
“I prefer you pay me with an Amazon card. You can get it at any store near you or online at Amazon.com!”
More recently though, this forum has become a hotbed for people to sell their tickets to that particular show, soliciting offers from other Facebook users that might be interested in attending. This is incredibly convenient, and with Facebook’s ability to transfer money directly through their platform via Messenger, it has literally never been easier to buy tickets from people.
Unfortunately, it’s also never been easier for someone to screw you over by selling you fake tickets and running off with your hard earned money without ever leaving the comfort of their home.
Furthermore, with many venues, particularly stadiums, going completely “paperless,” you likely won’t even know those digital tickets you just received are fake until you have already arrived at the gates.
Some of these fake posts are extremely easy to spot, but some are a little more challenging. So, for the sake of investigative journalism, as well as having a little too much free time on my hands on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to get down in the trenches and play the game for as long as I could to waste the time of these potential scammers as well as put together this article so you don’t get scammed!
Here are some tips to help you avoid being scammed on Facebook, as well as advice on how to avoid purchasing tickets on Facebook altogether!
Tip #1: Check The Venue Website Before Trying to Find Tickets Elsewhere!
Not every show sells out, and most of the ones that do take weeks or even months to get there. Aside from highly anticipated shows such as Adele at Xcel Energy Center, Jack White at The Armory, or even Aziz Ansari doing a special run of shows at a place like ACME Comedy Co. which all sell out in a matter of minutes, you likely still have time to purchase tickets directly!
Check the venue website! Check the artist website! Call the venue and see if they have any third-party vendors they sell tickets through (such as Electric Fetus in Minneapolis). Post something on your personal social media account asking if any of your friends have an extra ticket! Exhaust all possible legitimate options before turning to the secondary market.
I work part-time in the box office at a relatively large venue in the Twin Cities. I cannot tell you how many times we have had people come through the doors with fake tickets they bought from someone online when I can literally turn around and look directly at a stack of tickets still available for that night’s show.
If this happens to you, not only are you out whatever money you spent on the fake tickets, but you now have to spend the additional money to get legitimate tickets if you still want to attend the show. Turning to the secondary market to get tickets to a show should be an absolute last resort!
Tip #2: Purchase Tickets From Reputable Re-Sale Sites!
If you find yourself in a situation where a show has sold out, or you have exhausted all your options and have no other choice but to turn to the secondary market to get tickets, do not start on Facebook!
Start with websites such as Ticketmaster, StubHub, VividSeats, or verified re-sale sites through the NFL, NBA, or MLB for tickets to sporting events. Additionally, make sure the website you are on is legitimate. Many sketchy resale sites will pay for ads to show up very high on Google searches, knowing many people associate higher rankings with more legitimate sites.
Although this tip, as well as the previous one, often means you will potentially be stuck with ticket and service fees (that can occasionally be avoided by purchasing tickets directly at the venue’s box office!), it’s the best way to ensure that your ticket is 100% legitimate, and you won’t be left out in the cold on the night of the show!
If you get scammed on Facebook, you are out totally out of luck, but websites such as Ticketmaster and StubHub have ways of confirming that the tickets that are being re-sold are legitimate, meaning the tickets you purchase through those sites are guaranteed to work, or you get your money back.
Tip #3: Spotting & Avoiding Facebook Scammers!
In the hours leading up to the Sting & Shaggy performance I attended about a month ago in Minneapolis, I spent some time looking at the Facebook event page. Surprisingly, there were a large number of tickets being posted for sale, many of which with the same “Family went out of town so I am unable to attend! PM me!” or “My friends bailed on me so I’m selling our tickets CHEAP! DM me!” messages.
This was surprising for two reasons. First of all, as you can see from the screenshot posted below, there were still plenty of tickets available for sale directly through Ticketmaster for that night’s performance. Second, if your family is out of town and you are unable to attend, why are you waiting until roughly two hours before the doors are scheduled to open to find a buyer?
At this point, common sense took over, and red warning lights started flashing in my head that something here was suspect. However, these posts were still generating a lot of attention, and getting multiple responses from people desperately looking for tickets, so I decided to dig a little deeper.
Upon further inspection, you’ll see that most of these profiles posting “tickets” for sale are completely bogus. They almost always have been created sometime within the last seven days, contain absolutely no personal information or connections, and often times have only one or two photos, usually of a young, attractive woman.
Something else that is common among these posts is that a specific dollar amount is almost never given. It always contains a sort of “call to action” requesting the reader reach out to them via private message to discuss the price and exchanging of tickets, often times getting a response of “How much are you willing to pay?”
As I said before, with Facebook’s new ability to transfer money directly through its Messenger app, purchasing these tickets should be easier than ever. However, almost all of the people I contacted with tickets for sale, upon agreeing on a price which fluctuated greatly from case to case, wanted me to purchase a gift card (Amazon, Target, Steam) for that exact amount, and send them the code in exchange for the tickets.
This is by no means something you should ever consider doing. This person is going to take your money, which you’ve so conveniently given to them in the form of a gift card, send you a ticket that they have likely sent a dozen other people, and when the time comes to enter the venue, you will be turned away. Do not do this!
Instead, do some preliminary research on the person who posted the tickets for sale. Look at their profile, see if they have a reasonable number of friends (the average number for users in the U.S. is 338), are posting things regularly, and have a good amount of photos that you think are legitimate.
Ask them if they have physical tickets or electronic tickets and verify how they plan on making the exchange. Personally, I would never purchase tickets from someone that was not willing to meet me in person so I can verify their identity. Obviously, this isn’t always going to be the case due to a lot of factors, but always use your best judgment.
If something feels off, or in any way sketchy, don’t go through with it! I understand the allure of wanting to see your favorite band, and how difficult it can be to miss their show, but wouldn’t you much rather keep your money instead of running the risk of losing your money AND missing the show because the tickets are fake?
The mindset of “This would never happen to me!” is dangerous and wrong. Seriously, sit with me in the box office at my work one night during a sold-out show and count how many people are sent back to us because their tickets would not scan. Sometimes we can help, often times we can’t, so the best course of action is to make sure you never end up in that position.
Bottom line, be smart when buying tickets. Use your best judgment, reach out to friends and see if something feels off, and do some research! Scammers can be very pushy, often times wanting to get this over as quick as possible to avoid slipping up and being caught. If at any point during the interaction something feels off, just bail. Purchasing fake tickets is certainly a mistake I’ve witnessed many people learn from, but it can be a costly and extremely embarassing learning experience.