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Ticket Scams Are on the Rise: Here's How to Avoid Them & Why It Matters

Written by Carrie Beth Wallace

Ticket scams are at an all-time high, and unfortunately, the impact is hitting close to home. Recently, I was in a meeting comprised of Executive Directors from local arts organizations across our community and was surprised to discover the subject of ticket scamming was on the agenda.

Though I'd seen headlines about ticket scams on national concert tours and a rise in public frustration with pricing and fees due to their impact, I had no idea so many of our local arts organizations were falling victim to scams targeting their events.

"The more popular and higher our ticket sale volumes are, the more we see the scams happening," said Danielle Varner, Managing Director of the Springer Opera House. "We've seen upticks on popular titles like The Wizard of Oz, The Color Purple, and Steel Magnolias."

Other organizations said they're spending hundreds of dollars a month to rank first on Google in hopes of staying ahead of scamming websites. Why? Typically, patrons search for show titles or event names and click on the first website they see – instead of searching for the presenting venue and selecting their official website.

What's the harm in purchasing through a site other than the actual venue? "Some of these scam sites do not actually purchase any tickets for the show," explained Varner. "So when the patron comes to the venue, the tickets do not exist."

Several other organizations shared similar stories, saying patrons have paid hundreds of dollars over actual ticket prices only to discover the tickets never existed in the first place.

Unfortunately, missing tickets are only part of the impact organizations are facing. "These incidents are often people's first impression of the Springer," said Varner. "We will always do our best to accommodate each patron, but we can't refund any money, because they were not purchased with us. This ultimately puts a bad taste in the customer's mouth."

Scams also prevent venues and artists from being compensated fairly for their work. Every production and/or event functions through the use of contracts that determine elements like ticket pricing, number of tickets sold, artist compensation, etc. When tickets are scalped and sold for exponentially higher prices, everyone involved loses. This upheaval of an otherwise balanced system causes a negative ripple effect from the top down. For example, when a patron pays hundreds of dollars over asking price per seat and then shows up to discover they've purchased illegitimate tickets, those funds are not only lost by the patron but therefore the venue as well as all artists involved.

So, what can patrons do to help?

"The best and safest way to secure tickets to any performance or event is to either call the box office directly or go through the venue's website only," said Varner. "The other thing you can do to help is to share about this problem and help us spread the word. Share anything you see about this on social media, and tell your friends and family members." ◼️

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