Horror story averted. But how?
Paul Crowley believed something was sketchy about the potential transaction he would make with a scalper for two tickets to the Discover BCS National Championship. So he contacted our Darren Rovell on Twitter, and step-by-step the curtain was drawn back on the fake $1,000 tickets.
Turns out the seller, named "Chris Michaels," had a pretty elaborate story.
The scalper doesn't have a good sucker in Crowley. He is going to do his research. After looking at a picture of the tickets and comparing them with pictures he obtained from friends who had genuine tickets, here's what he discovers. The back of the ticket isn't centered. The hologram looks off. The printing alignment is off ("row" and "section" compared to what is above it). The ticket says "No Refund. No Exchanges." Sophisticated ticket buyers know that the line is "No Refunds. No Exchanges." Crowley also thinks the perforated line looks off as well. Then he goes next-level. This bar code is 14 digits, he notices. The real tickets have 12 digits. This account number is 12 digits. The real tickets have 11-digit account numbers, he observes.
Crowley now knows he's not going to buying the tickets. He calls the Chicago Police Department, hoping that they could set up a sting so that another person doesn't get duped. Crowley says they tell him to call when he is two blocks away from the gas station, something that Crowley didn't want to do given the area the meeting point is in.
The Notre Dame alum goes back to the seller one more time and asks him who his stepfather in-law is.
Scalper: "Name is Richard Ryans '79"
Crowley: "Thanks Chris, 3p tomorrow right? Did you say you work for US Cellular Field?"
Scalper: "Yes i work grounds crew for the Chicago Whitesox and i get out of work tomorrow at 2pm. The gas station is actually down the street from my home and i was going to walk."
Crowley: "Got it. But I thought you said you live in Wicker Park?"
Scalper: "My wife lives in wicker park. We haven't moved in together yet because of personal issues. Wow sir too much information dont you think?"
Crowley: "Chris -- One last question. Does your step-father in law know that you're selling the tickets. Just want to make sure it's okay."
Scalper: "Yes he does. He's actually in Miami now and we let him know that we were selling the tickets because of the expenses of the trip like hotel fees, food, and drinks."
You can read the full story here. Good for Crowley and every other fan doing his or her homework. As always, be careful with this stuff. As Rovell notes, many go through backdoor channels to get out of StubHub fees. Better safe than sorry, I say.