Penn State police are investigating multiple instances of fraud regarding football tickets, including one in which unsuspecting buyers were scammed on Facebook.
In addition, police have received reports of scalpers buying Penn State tickets with counterfeit cash, and a Bronx man was arrested in State College in September for selling fraudulent tickets.
Incidents of scams and fake tickets have increased at Penn State this season, with most reports involving the Sept. 29 game against Ohio State, which set a Beaver Stadium attendance record (110,889).
After that game, police said they confiscated more than 300 counterfeit tickets. Some fans were turned away at the Beaver Stadium gates because of counterfeit ticket barcodes.
“… [G]enerally, the unfortunate side effect to having a successful football program is that criminals target such an environment to wrongfully cash-in on fans,” Jennifer Cruden, public information officer for Penn State police, said in an email.
Specific online scam: Police are investigating a specific online scam for the first time. Penn State said three separate parties attempted to buy tickets for the Ohio State game through an offer on Facebook.
The parties sent money to account on Venmo, an online payment site. After receiving payment, the suspect deleted the Venmo account, police said.
Police believe that the same person is responsible for all three incidents. Other potential victims are asked to contact Penn State police (814-863-1111).
Police also arrested a 26-year-old Bronx man at the Ohio State game for selling fraudulent tickets. Jose Lopez pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and was sentenced to one year of probation and time served.
Warnings issued: Penn State has issued several warnings about tickets scams the past few seasons, largely around its popular “Whiteout” games at Beaver Stadium. Last year, Penn State said it had seen a “significant increase” in counterfeit football tickets for the “Whiteout” game against Michigan.
“Additionally, we have tried to do more this year to educate our fans that the Penn State Athletic Ticket Office and Ticketmaster are the only authorized sources for home game tickets as well as notify fans and the media when counterfeit tickets have been found in the marketplace,” Cruden said in an email.
Penn State urges fans to use caution buying tickets from unauthorized sources, including online sites such as StubHub, Vivid Seats, Craigslist and eBay. Fans with counterfeit tickets will be denied entrance into Beaver Stadium. Penn State has one home game remaining, Nov. 24 against Maryland.
Recommendations: The Better Business Bureau also offers recommendations for ticket-buyers:
►Avoid unregulated or unlicensed sellers (or “scalpers”) at events.
►Be wary of email or online ads touting discount tickets.
►Buy with a credit card. Debit, cash and wire transactions likely are not protected.
►Verify tickets at the event site’s will-call booth.