Securing Our Communities: Ticket Scams

Each week, the NTIC Cyber Center highlights a different social engineering scam impacting individuals and communities within the National Capital Region. We encourage everyone to share this information with friends, colleagues, and loved ones to help reduce their risk of becoming a victim of financial fraud and identity theft.

Ticket scams are a type of social engineering scheme in which the perpetrator sells fake tickets to steal money, elicit personally identifiable information (PII), and/or place malware on the victim’s computer. These scammers masquerade as mainstream ticket providers, third-party sellers, promotional campaigns, and individual ticket resellers. They may create fraudulent tickets for a wide variety of events including sports, concerts, theater peformances, conventions, festivals, and travel.

Scammers lure victims through email, phone, social media, spoofed websites, and false advertisements, as well as in-person. They may imitate jargon and organizational logos used by legitimate sellers. While ticket scams are often used for financial gain, scammers will also take PII during the payment process for identity theft and, in some cases, they can place malware on the victim's computer.

Before you organize the next event outing with family and friends, be sure to familiarize yourself with the following tips to avoid getting scammed:

  • Purchase tickets from established vendors that are members of professional associations. You may check the National Association Ticket Broker (NATB), Better Business Bureau (BBB), and International Ticketing Association (INTIX). Please note that smaller yet legitimate ticket vendors may not be a part of any association, so take extra precaution with these purchases.

  • Verify through multiple sources that the event itself is legitimate and takes place at the same date and time reflected on the ticket. Other ticket details to look out for are accurate venue location, seating number, spelling errors, and grammatical errors.

  • Make sure to purchase tickets through a legitimate web domain. Be wary when clicking ads and email advertisements, as they might direct you to phishing links or malware.

  • When purchasing tickets in-person from an individual, be sure to conduct the transaction in a public setting with cameras nearby to avoid theft. Ask yourself, "Is this person willing to accompany you to the gate to ensure you make it through?" or " Is the ticket price too good to be true?" The answers will clue you in on the likelihood of a scam.

  • Avoid any ticket offer in which payment is requested in the form of gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or cash, as these methods prevent payments from being tracked or reversed. It is much safer to purchase with credit cards, as fraudulent charges may be disputed.

  • Does the vendor have a refund policy? Reputable vendors will often provide a refund if an event is cancelled. Less reputable vendors will likely not have this policy.

  • If there is any doubt with your ticket purchase, you can always verify the legitimacy with the venue's customer service department.

Be sure to report all ticket scam attempts to your local police department, the US Postal Inspection Service, the US Federal Trade Commission, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, and corresponding social media platforms.

The NTIC is governed by a privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protection policy to promote conduct that complies with applicable federal, state, and local laws. The NTIC does not seek or retain any information about individuals or organizations solely on the basis of their religious, political or social views or activities; their participation in a particular noncriminal organization or lawful event; or their race, ethnicities, citizenships, places of origin, ages, disabilities, genders, or sexual orientations. No information is gathered or collected by the NTIC in violation of federal or state laws or regulations.