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Police Warn Of Craigslist Ticket Scam

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Local scam artists are taking aim at fans hoping to see famous country music artist Luke Bryan.  The scammers are preying on fans trying to buy tickets to Bryan’s show next month in Hartford. Police are warning hopeful concert-goers to proceed carefully.

“4 awesome seats” is what one local family, who doesn’t want to be identified, read on a recent Craigslist advertisement. They thought would get them access to the September 13th sold out show at XFINITY Theater in Hartford. The family paid $660 for four tickets.

“They were 99 percent perfect from the regular eye that you could see,” one family member told us. “They looked legit. Barcode, perforated, the card stock was good, the ink didn’t smear.”

And there was a Ticketmaster receipt. Soon after the cash deal, though, things got suspicious because the tickets were a few rows off what they were advertised. The sellers would not return calls so the family revisited Craigslist.

“There’s the tickets, miraculously still on Craigslist for sale,” the victim explained. “‘Ohh okay let’s play this game.’ Shot an email to the seller,” he explained.
“Do you still have the tickets?” he asked him.

“Yes I do, they are still available,” the seller responded.

Unbeknownst to the sellers, within one hour they’d be face to face with undercover West Springfield Police officers.

“All of a sudden he looked at the tickets and he (detective) pulled out the tickets that my daughter, we had given to him to match,” the family explained. “‘Ohh that’s funny, these are the same tickets I have right here,'”  the family says the detective told the alleged scammer. “Boom the kid took off like a jack rabbit across Route 5,” the family said.

18 year old Jose Gonzalez-Diaz and 22 year old Francis Bastardo-Reyes, both of Holyoke, were both arrested.  Bruce Cooper of the licensed House of Tickets, which has been in operation in Springfield for 22 years, recommends using licensed brokers. Cooper says that electronic paper tickets that can be printed at home are often riskier than traditional hard stock tickets because repeated copies of the tickets can be made and only one ticket will get you in the show.  However, if you use Craigslist, he suggests avoid paying in cash and demand some information yourself.

“Ask them ‘Who do these belong to,you,? Who do they belong to?’ Maybe see some other kind of receipt,” Cooper said. “Be able to see identification, where you meet them, if you are meeting in a public place or a parking lot you want to take down a license plate or description so you do have some recourse.”

Something at least one family learned the hard way.

“You try and trust people but obviously not everybody believes in being honest. I just wanted this operation to stop,” the family said.

The family also credited West Springfield Police with quick thinking actions. Detectives also found a stack of other fake tickets on the men, and suspect they were conducting countless scams for who knows how long.  If you think you may have been scammed by these men or bought fake tickets,  contact West Springfield Police detectives at 413-263-3210.

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