Fans beware: fake tickets are being sold Counterfeits are thicker, brighter red

police will arrest both sellers, buyers

October 08, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police concerned about a high-priced ticket scheme are warning Orioles fans to stay away from scalpers outside Camden Yards, saying many sellers are offering fake tickets, and buyers and sellers stand a good chance of being arrested.

Undercover officers working outside the ballpark during the weekend's series against Seattle said they arrested 10 sellers and seized 75 counterfeit tickets.

All the tickets, thicker and brighter colored than the real ones, were for Section 308, Row K, seats 9, 10, 11 and 12. They are upper-deck seats in the far right field corner that sell for $11 during regular-season games and $35 during the playoffs.

The face value printed on the fake tickets was $20. Police said they were selling for $125 each on the street, even though they are considered among the worst seats in the ballpark because they are angled toward the outfield.

"People will pay top dollar just to walk in the door," said Lt. Edward C. Glacken, head of the stadium unit.

"They don't care where they sit," he said.

To help the public, Glacken showed reporters two sets of tickets from TicketMaster, a private vendor that contracts with the Orioles.

The differences are not easy to pick out.

The fake ticket is glossy; the real one is dull. The fake uses bright red in the advertising on the back; the real ticket uses a flat red. The fake is on heavier paper and is twice as thick as a legitimate ticket. The printed prices also are different.

Glacken said he believes the maker of the fraudulent tickets prints them on computer paper, then glues the front to the back. He said police and investigators for Major League Baseball are trying to find out who is making the tickets.

"It is very disturbing when a man, his wife and their children come to the gate and try to get in and we have no option but to seize the tickets and send the fans away," Glacken said.

"There are very few legitimate tickets being sold by fans coming in," he said.

Usually, it is illegal to sell or buy a ticket -- even at face value -- within a mile of Camden Yards, except in the Orioles-designated "scalp-free zone."

But team officials eliminated the zone during the playoffs, partly in response to the scheme uncovered by police.

"It's really a buyer-beware situation," said Bill Stetka, an Orioles spokesman, who said officials saw sellers in the scalp-free zone with stacks of 50 and 100 playoff tickets when the limit was four per credit card.

"We just don't want to be in a position of aiding and abetting the brokers, the scalpers and the counterfeiters," Stetka said.

Glacken added that police have received reports of fans trying to buy tickets being robbed, particularly on streets away from the stadium. He said people pretending to be scalpers will take a customer's money without giving them tickets.

The lieutenant offered advice for fans coming to the sold-out games against Cleveland today and tomorrow: "Don't come down and get ripped off by buying bogus tickets."

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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