By Nick Gale, 890 WLS News
(CHICAGO) — This weekend marks the return of Lollapalooza following an off-year during the pandemic. Usually, Lollapalooza fake tickets are the primary concern and fake ticket sellers are the main source of scams, but fake vaccination cards are also a concern this year.
It’s fraud of a different kind in anticipation of people using fake documents to prove they are vaccinated. With over 100,000 attendees a day and entry being at stake, it creates a perfect storm of scammers selling cards. Some buyers are willing to purchase a fake card instead of actually getting vaccinated.
“Just like finding tickets, there are countless ways for consumers to find vaccinations cards online, with online marketplaces, ticket sellers, resellers and the like, and unfortunately, some of them are rip-offs,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.
“This scam is especially dangerous because fake tests and vaccine cards not only put people at a health risk, but buying and selling illegal cards is a crime,” said Bernas. He noted that the FBI is investigating buyers and sellers. Violators can be arrested.
In a statement, the agency said: “FBI Chicago reminds the public that the creation, purchase, or sale of fake vaccine cards by individuals is illegal, dangerous, and punishable with significant fines and prison time.”
Officials do have concerns while the event is outdoors, with the crowd really bunched together, especially at the entry point where tickets and vaccination credentials have to be checked.
Organizers encourage people to bring their physical vaccination cards or negative COVID test results, not screenshots on their phones, to speed the process.
“Ticket sellers and scammers always use the excitement and emotion of events like playoffs or an exciting concert to snare unsuspecting victims,” Bernas said. “Buyers and sellers are urged to use extreme caution and remember buying and selling vaccination cards is not only illegal, they can expose themselves and others to COVID if they are not vaccinated.”
Last year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 300 reports on BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/scamtracker) about ticket scams related to sporting events, concerts, theatre, and more.
BBB is warning consumers to be smart when searching for and purchasing tickets to ensure they are buying from a trustworthy source.
- Know that buying tickets from unknown sources is like buying tickets in a dark alley. Fake tickets, especially for sought-after events, have become common.
- Buy only from trusted vendors. Check out the seller/broker. Look them up on bbb.org to learn what other customers have experienced.
- Purchase from the venue. Whenever possible, use the official ticket sales agent for the venue or visit the box office directly.
- Consider your source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling fraudulent tickets.
- Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Don’t click through from emails or online ads; a common scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company.
- Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the exact location of the seats represented by the tickets. Know what happens when concerts cancel or change dates.
- Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won’t be able to get your money back.
- Be wary of advertisements. When you search the web for online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good judgment; some of these ads are going to be scams, especially if the prices are low.
Copyright 2021, WLS News