BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Police have already made one arrest but are warning Buffalo Bills fans about fraudulent tickets being sold to Sunday’s sold-out home opener.
Tickets to the game are soaring on online retailers, with prices reaching double or triple the face value. But fans are still eager to get to Ralph Wilson Stadium to see the Bills take on their classic rivals, the Miami Dolphins.
Officers were alerted about the bogus tickets by a man named John, who noticed an ad on Craigslist for four Bills tickets for $600.
“The guy said he had hard copy tickets through Ticketmaster with a receipt that he could show me,” said John, who ended up meeting the man downtown to buy the tickets.
“I looked them over front and back and they looked as legitimate as any Ticketmaster ticket I have ever seen in my life.”
However, when John got home, he spotted something most people wouldn’t – on the back of the ticket, the expiration date on the coupon expired over a year ago. John called Ticketmaster, gave them the event code, and they said it was a fraudulent number.
He immediately called Buffalo Police. “They did everything in their power to help me out.”
Within hours, police arrested 22-year-old Jayquan Rivera of Buffalo when he allegedly sold an undercover detectives with the Buffalo Police Narcotic Squad two bogus tickets at a downtown fast food restaurant.
Rivera is charged with counts of larceny, possession of a forged instrument, trademark counterfeiting and scheme to defraud.
The penalties he could face are up to a year in jail.
Buffalo Police Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo says he might not be the only suspect. Officers recommend utilizing authorized vendors.
“The age old advice of ‘buyer beware’ is very relevant in this case. Buy your event tickets from recognized ticket selling agencies, or at the event site, not from strangers on street corners,” Dennis J. Richards, chief of detectives, recommended.
The Better Business Bureau also offered advice.
“Buying on the secondary market can be useful for non-season ticket holders or occasional fans heading to the Ralph,” said Warren Clark, President and CEO of BBB. “But proceed with caution this close to the game. There are legitimate ticket brokers out there with real tickets, but also scammers who want to take advantage of the hype. It’s important to take it slow and know the difference. If you are going to take a risk, make sure it’s at least a calculated one.”
John isn’t sure he’ll ever get his money back.
“I’m just devastated. I was planning on being on the 30 yard line watching the team I grew up loving my whole life. Now I have no tickets and I’m out $600.”
John believes there could be dozens of other victims.
“People might not see the story and they might not know what’s going on. They’re going to go to the game, tailgate, have a blast in the parking lot, they’re going to go to the gate, they’re going to go to scan their ticket and it’s going to say, ‘Denied.'”
Those who believe they may have fake tickets can call the the Buffalo Bills ticket office at 1-877-BB-TICKS to check their authenticity. Police advise fans to purchase tickets only through legitimate ticket outlets.