Straight Talk: Fake events, phony tickets take festival-goers by surprise

·3 min read
BBB logo
BBB logo

With COVID-19 restrictions easing up, many people are looking forward to fun festivals this summer. As usual, scammers are finding ways to take advantage of the building excitement. This time, they are cashing in with phony tickets – and even fake events.

How the scam works

You see an amazing deal on tickets to a summer festival in your area, usually through a link on social media. The event promises live music, all-you-can-eat meals, craft beer or wine, or other fun activities.

When you click the social media link, it takes you to a professional website with fantastic pictures. You enter your credit card information to buy tickets, and you think you are all set. But before you buy, do a little research. Whether the event is non-existent, merely disappointing, or you just bought phony tickets, the result is the same: someone pockets your hard-earned money!

BBB Scam Tracker ( has received numerous reports from people who either purchased fake tickets to real events or bought tickets to events that never materialized.

One consumer who purchased tickets to a fake beer crawl reported: “Reviews across multiple platforms make it clear that these events are at best extremely misleading or at worst canceled. No refunds are given, even when their inconsistent and mostly unreachable customer service email address responds to confirm a refund will be provided.”

Another consumer reported purchasing tickets to an event that has been postponed numerous times with no refund offered. “[The company] has a decent following on Facebook and Instagram, and people commenting on which event they attended and how much fun it was,” the ticket buyer wrote. “I doubt those events ever happened. They delete any comments on their social media that point out how this feels like a scam, how long people have had the tickets, or how this event never seems to happen.”

How to spot a fake festival

Research before you buy. Search online for the name of the festival and make sure the name advertised matches the website. Scammers often use names that sound similar to those of real festivals.

Check for (working) contact information. Be sure the festival website has a real phone number and email address.

Watch out for prices that sound too good to be true. There is no way a festival can offer tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If the prices are much lower than elsewhere, it's likely a scam.

What can you do?

Pay with a credit card. You can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through. Be wary of online sellers that don’t accept credit cards.

Look for secure sites. The website should begin with HTTPS (the extra “s” is for security) and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.

Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other free online listings.  Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out third-party ticket sites at before making purchases.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Straight Talk: Fake events, phony tickets take festival-goers by surprise