CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the Better Business Bureau of Greater Cleveland are all warning against ticket scams ahead of Tuesday's Indians home opener.
It is legal within the city of Cleveland to resell -- or scalp -- tickets to events in the two designated locations at East Fourth/Huron and East 9th/Prospect. City law states that those reselling tickets are not supposed to sell over the face value of the ticket unless they are a licensed ticket broker.
John Mahoney, the administrative manager for city of Cleveland's Office of Fair Housing and Consumer Affairs, said it's a buyer beware situation even if scalping tickets in the legal, designated locations.
"If you come in they're going for $300 and someone wants to sell you a $100 ticket, you might be a little leery that is below market value, let's say, so you want to be careful about that," said Mahoney. "It's your hard-earned money so you don't want to throw it away. I think a lot of people forget that sometimes because they're so interested in being there and experiencing what's going on."
Mahoney said in his opinion, it's safer to buy an after-market ticket from a reputable website these days rather than on the street.
Sue Connelly from the BBB of Greater Cleveland had similar advice.
"It is difficult to tell a fake ticket from a real one. You don't know until you try to enter the gates," she said.
Mahoney said the Cleveland police saw increases on people being scammed during last year's World Series and Cavaliers playoff run.
There's no recourse for someone who is scammed.
"Unfortunately (there is) not, because they don't, you probably don't know the person you bought it from, they're not going to give you a business card because they probably don't do it as a business, so you don't know who they were, where they came from. They could be from out of state for all we know especially when it comes to big ticket things like the playoffs or the World Series and things like that," said Mahoney. "If you go through the reputable sites you're gonna be fine, but if you just get someone off the street or someone on a third party who just posts something you never know what you're going to get."
Mahoney said it's possibly the one down side of having great sports teams.
"If there is a down side I guess it would be (this)," said Mahoney. "Scammers are going to try take advantage of anything they can do."
The Cleveland Police Department is also reminding people to be cautious before buying tickets.
The department released this statement: "Fans who purchase tickets from a secondary source are taking a chance. Police officers want to proactively curb such activity and encourage buyers to be aware. Purchasing tickets via other means creates the potential for possessing either an invalid or counterfeit ticket. The Indians are not responsible for tickets purchased through secondary sources."
The BBB also had these tips to keep consumers safe.
• Purchase from the venue. Whenever possible, use the official ticket sales agent for the venue. StubHub is the only MLB-authorized third-party ticket website. The Indians can't provide service for tickets purchased from other sites.
• Check out the seller/broker. Look them up on bbb.org/Cleveland to learn what other customers have experienced. Google the name of the seller, their email address, phone numbers, etc., to see if others have reported problems.
• Buy only from trusted vendors. Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address and "https" to indicate the site is secure.
• Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket re-seller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the location of the seats represented by the tickets, either orally or by reference to a seating chart; and, if the tickets are not available for immediate access to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.
• Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won't be able to get your money back.
• Be wary of advertisements. When you search the web for online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good judgment; some of these ads are going to be scams, especially if the prices are low. Also watch for sites that use Progressive Field or Indians in their names, but are not affiliated with either entity.