Scammers are always out there with fake Vikings tickets.
In fact, about 150 people were duped and lost money for the 2017 regular season home finale against the Chicago Bears, according to Minneapolis police.
And that was a game with much lower stakes than the upcoming Saints playoff matchup.
"There’s a big market for fake tickets and unfortunately it’s growing – both at sporting events and at concerts and theatrical performances," BBB Communications Manager Dan Hendrickson told GoMN. "The tools to create fake tickets or simply copy them are fairly readily accessible."
Ahead of Sunday's matchup, the BBB, Minneapolis Police Department, and the Vikings are laying out some suggestions for anyone hoping to score some tickets.
Where to buy from
Buy from one of those, and your seat is legit.
Where not to buy from
Scammers will usually try to sell over the internet, outside of those above-mentioned official options. Or they'll hang out around the stadium and try to sell tickets the day of the game.
"Typically we see the most scams during home games against Green Bay and Chicago," Minneapolis police spokesperson Scott Seroka told GoMN. "That said, we’ve been seeing more and more as the team continues its success."
They're expecting about 150 victims of fake tickets again this Sunday – but hope getting the word out beforehand will help prevent as many as possible, Seroka said.
Scalping legitimate tickets is legal in Minnesota, thanks to a law change back in 2007.
What happens if I buy a fake ticket?
You probably won't be allowed into the stadium when it gets scanned at the entrance. You could also end up roped into an investigation.
If you do happen to make it in to the stadium and you're caught with a fake, you'll be kicked out.
And definitely call police if it happens to you (there's a spot on the north side of U.S. Bank Stadium to report bad tickets).
It's not always easy for them to find the perpetrator though.
"These are time consuming and difficult cases," Seroka said. "Scammers move around, use fake phone numbers; it becomes tough to track and it sometimes becomes a resource issue."
If you are insistent on buying off the secondary market, you do so at your own risk. But you can protect yourself, at least a little bit.
What methods do scammers use?
There are some frequent strategies, as explained here by Hendrickson:
Some will fabricate PDF tickets and try to sell them on eBay, Craigslist or other sites like those. Seroka said "quite a few" cases come from those purchases.
Other scammers will make fakes on ticket stock, that thicker cardboard (and hope buyers don't realize the Vikings do not use that material for tickets).
They could also copy the PDF of a legitimate ticket, and continue to sell reproductions. In that case, the first person with it at the gate will get in, but the others won't.
Or it could be small tweaks. For example, altering a PDF ticket to make it look like it's for a top-notch seat – when in reality it's way in the upper deck.
What to look for if you're buying online
- Make sure the site itself isn't shady.
- Always do the transaction through the site – sometimes scammers will try to lure you outside of the site to pay up. And the exchange probably won't be covered if you do it that way.
- Check the seller's history. Someone who has bad ratings, hasn't been around long, or hasn't been active in awhile, you probably want to avoid.
- Don't pay with a cashier's check or wire transfer. Credit cards or PayPal offer at least some protections if you don't get your tickets.
What to look for if you're buying in person
- The only real ticket formats are digital (through the Vikings mobile app), or PDF tickets that can be printed on 8x11 paper.
- "Do NOT purchase any Vikings tickets sold on hard ticket stock," they warn.
- Really look over the ticket. See if there are any discrepancies – wrong date, typos, etc.
- Check to see the seats on the ticket match up with a stadium seating chart. You can also verify the price.
- You can ask whoever is selling it to take a photo with an ID, so they're discoverable later if something goes wrong. Or have them come to the stadium gate with you to ensure they scan.