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 this building excitement. This time, they are cashing in with phony 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-looking website with fantastic pictures. You enter your credit card information to buy tickets, and you think you are all set. But, buyer beware: BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports from people who bought tickets to events that turned out to be fake.
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 not even real. No refunds are given, even when their inconsistent and mostly-unreachable customer service email address responds to confirm a refund will be provided.”
One Indiana business reported a scammer using their address to host fake business classes: “A company is supposedly hosting Business Trainings and Seminars at our business location. The address they are using is not their address. There are NO reservations for conference rooms or office spaces on any of the days these events are supposedly taking place. Tickets cost between $575 and $2000. Someone came into our building looking for one of these events. She showed us her receipt. She had paid over $900 for registration for an event that was not taking place at our location (or any other location).”
How to Spot a Fake Festival or Event
• Research before you buy. Search online for the name of the event 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 event 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. Most major credit cards have better consumer protections than a debit card. You can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through.
• Look for secure sites. The website should begin with https (the extra “s” is for secure) 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 BBB.org before making purchases.
For more tips and scam prevention, visit BBB.org. If you see a scam, whether you’ve lost money or not, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Whether you’ve lost money or not, your story could help others avoid a scam.
Rick Walz is the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana, which serves 23 counties. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Consumer Advocate: Fake events take festival goers by surprise