4 charged with scalping, but counterfeit tickets are not among problems Police say fraud artist may be taking break because of publicity

October 10, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

An undercover police patrol that scours the streets around Camden Yards looking for scalpers arrested four people last night, including a man who police say flew to Baltimore from Denver to sell a stack of tickets at more than twice their price.

The Denver resident, identified as Bruce G. Brown, 39, was caught by an undercover officer with 51 tickets for seats in sections 380, 382 and 386, which have a face value of $35 each, police said. But Brown was selling them for $75 apiece, said Lt. Edward C. Glacken of the city police stadium unit.

Police seized the 51 tickets and charged Brown with scalping. He and three others charged with scalping last night were all held awaiting a bail hearing before a District Court Commissioner.

There was no sign last night, however, of any of the counterfeit tickets that appeared over the weekend in the Division Series against Seattle, and police believe the fraud artist who has been making them has decided to take a few games off to let the publicity die down.

"I'll bet you $500 that he'll be back before the end of this series," Glacken said.

The counterfeit tickets, some of which have sold for as high as $150 apiece, appear to have been made on a high-quality scanner and printer and bear close resemblance to authentic playoff tickets. The fake tickets are printed on thicker paper and have brighter red ink on the back.

Police sent another 16 undercover officers out hunting for the scalpers and counterfeiters last night, but the evening was relatively slow: The catch for the evening consisted of the handful of scalpers, a disorderly person, a trespasser and one person who tried to steal a bag of hot dogs from a vendor on Eutaw Street.

During the playoffs, there is no scalp-free zone outside the ballpark, making it illegal for anyone to sell tickets even at face value within a one-mile radius of Camden Yards. Orioles officials eliminated the zone because they feared scalpers would use it to unload some of the tickets they previously bought in bulk.

"Some of the scalpers were out there with stacks of 50 to 100 tickets looking to cut their losses by selling their tickets at face value," said Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka.

Most people who want to sell an extra ticket to a playoff game can readily find someone who will buy their ticket, well away from the zone around the stadium, Stetka said.

"Our main purpose for requesting that the City Council pass an ordinance was to prevent scalpers from harassing people around the ballpark," Stetka said. "We had complaints of people going to the game who were being harassed."

Stetka said the Orioles are in a tough position with respect to fans who have unknowingly purchased counterfeit tickets. Some fans have bought multiple counterfeit tickets and were turned away at the gate, unable to bring their families in for a night they had expected to spend at the ballpark.

"Unfortunately, I don't see what we can do," Stetka said. "For us to give them the money they paid for the tickets would mean we'd be buying the counterfeit tickets."

Pub Date: 10/10/97

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