Nine arrested for scalping at stadium No free zone in playoffs

counterfeit tickets absent during Game 1

October 09, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Somewhere between here and New York there is a very clever person sitting at a computer making tickets that are breaking hearts.

Whoever has been making the counterfeit playoff tickets that have been bought up by unsuspecting fans for up to $150 apiece didn't prepare any bogus creations for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series last night, but police say they doubt they've heard the last of him.

"Whoever's doing it will probably try again," said Lt. Edward C. Glacken, head of the Baltimore police stadium unit, which last night had 16 undercover officers roving the streets around Camden Yards looking for scalpers and counterfeit tickets. But while nine people were arrested for scalping, none of the authentic-looking phony tickets emerged.

The tickets, dozens of which were seized from scalpers during the weekend series with Seattle and which police believe are being printed between here and New York, are of unusually high quality and bear striking resemblance to actual tickets. But while 10 people who were selling the counterfeits last weekend were arrested, no one's talking, says Glacken.

"They all had the same story, almost like they were coached to say it: That they bought the tickets over on Eutaw Street somewhere," Glacken said. "We have not had one person who's told us anything, and I think that's because there's too much money to be made."

The tickets also have surfaced in Philadelphia and New York, bearing certain trademarks of their illicit author: thick paper and a deeper red ink on the back than is used on the authentic tickets. Police believe the tickets are probably being produced on a high-quality printing program on a home computer.

Major League Baseball's security officers were at last night's game -- as is normal practice -- to assist in spotting scalpers and any possible counterfeits. Last year in Baltimore, counterfeit tickets appeared at the two Division Series games against Cleveland, police said.

"It's heartbreaking to see what happens," Glacken said. "Last weekend, a guy came with his wife and two young kids, baseball gloves and all, and paid $100 each for counterfeit tickets that listed a price of $30. We had to seize the tickets. I wish I had four real tickets, I would have given them to the poor guy."

Scalpers arrested at last night's ALCS opener were hustling authentic tickets.

"All I did was sell a ticket for a little extra," said one man sitting in the small cell reserved for scalpers and disorderlies at the stadium's police unit. "I sold a $35 ticket for $50. Other people are out there selling the same seats for $150 each. Why is it a crime if I'm offering a bargain?"

The nine people charged with scalping were surprisingly selling tickets at face value or slightly above, according to undercover officers. During playoffs, there is no scalp-free zone at the stadium, meaning it is against the law to sell a ticket for any price within a one-mile radius of Camden Yards.

Officers out on yesterday's undercover scalping patrol played a variety of roles to attract offers from ticket sellers, including a businessman in a fine suit, a would-be "party animal" wearing a Guinness cap and a Caribbean T-shirt, and a husband and wife looking to catch the game at the spur of the moment.

"Some are in business suits, some are in jeans and shorts," Glacken said. "They're tough to spot."

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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