BBB Tip: Enjoy March Madness, But Avoid Fake Ticket Scams

March 21, 2017

FedEx Forum will be buzzing with excitement this weekend as four top-seed college basketball teams meet on the court in the NCAA College Basketball South Regional Semifinals. Some fans are still looking for tickets while others, whose teams may not have advanced this far in the tournament, are looking to sell theirs. Getting the best seats shouldn’t be fraught with worries about whether your ticket is real or counterfeit. But fans often get tricked into buying fake tickets. reported that one basketball fan spent $500 on tickets on an online classifieds site last year. He was just steps away from entering the Barclays Center to watch the game when he found out his tickets were fraudulent. A quick search of the online classifieds site Craigslist today turned up dozens of listings for NCAA Tournament tickets in Memphis.

According to the Durham Herald-Sun, a 24-year old Ft. Myers, FL man was arrested last month and charged with 4 counts each of scalping tickets, counterfeiting a trademark and obtaining property by false pretense. He had listed tickets to the February 9 Duke-North Carolina game at Cameron Indoor Stadium for sale on Craigslist. The buyer, a ticket broker for, had previously been burned by this seller. Instead of meeting the seller with the money for the tickets, he alerted local law enforcement, who arrested the guy.

A bar code on a ticket is all you need to get into the game these days. But some scalpers sell the same ticket - with the same bar code - again and again. Others design ones that look like the real thing. Excited fans often unknowingly help the crooks by posting pictures of their tickets on social media, which allows crooks to replicate the bar codes and use them for creating fake tickets. Many times, victims don’t know their tickets are fakes or duplicates until they get to the game.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a ticket broker, a ticket scalper, and a scammer selling fraudulent tickets. These BBB tips can help you avoid becoming the victim of a fake ticket scam:

  • Avoid online classifieds sites like Craigslist. The site may be legitimate but the tickets may not be.
  • Purchase from the venue or the official NCAA website at NCAA also offers resale options for ticketholders through, the Official Ticket & Hospitality Provider of the NCAA. 
  • Check out the seller/broker. Check them out at to read reviews and complaints to learn what other customers have experienced. Check to see if they’re a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200% guarantee on tickets that don’t arrive in time for an event.
  • Buy only from vendors you know and trust. Don’t click through on links in emails or online ads. Check the spelling of the url to make sure you are on the site you think you’re on.
  • Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.
  • Use payment methods that come with protection. Pay with a credit card or PayPal so you have some recourse if the tickets turn out to be not as promised.
  • Be wary of advertisements with ridiculously low prices.  Use common sense; some of these could be scams.