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Vikings fans bought fake tickets for Chicago game; what to watch for

U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Vikings. Forum News Service file photo

MINNEAPOLIS—As enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings grows, so do reports of people getting stuck with worthless tickets bought through unofficial channels.

More than 100 people lost money buying fake tickets for the Vikings' final regular-season game Dec. 31 against the Chicago Bears, according to Minneapolis police. Most bought the bogus tickets through online connections, but more and more are falling victim to unscrupulous sellers outside U.S. Bank Stadium on game day.

The number of fake-ticket reports has been growing all season.

"With the Vikings' success, the number has been going up gradually over the season," said police spokesman Scott Seroka. "We expect that to continue now that they're in the playoffs."

Minneapolis police Lt. Kim Lund helps the Vikings with their ticket-fraud issues. She knows most of the reputable ticket scalpers, and they help point out newcomers selling suspicious tickets on the sidewalk.

Identifying dishonest ticket sellers online takes a little more savvy.

Lund said most problems come when people find tickets for sale on Craigslist or eBay, but then meet the seller to purchase the tickets in person. Fraudulent sellers often want to meet in person because they want to be paid in cash or gift cards.

"If people are asked to purchase tickets with a Target gift card or an eBay gift card, that's a good sign" that the tickets are no good, Lund said. "Because they're not traceable."

Lund said a friend contacted her recently about making exactly such a purchase. An online contact wanted to sell tickets but wanted to be paid with a gift card instead of going through PayPal or an online credit card transaction.

"I said go ahead and do it, but you'll probably be seeing me on Sunday," Lund said.

To avoid getting ripped off by online sellers or street hawkers, Lund and the Better Business Bureau offer these tips in advance of Sunday's divisional-round playoff game against the New Orleans Saints:

ONLINE SELLERS

•Your best bet is to buy tickets through the Vikings Ticket Office, Ticketmaster or the NFL Ticket Exchange. These are the only online sellers that can guarantee the ticket you purchase will work at the gate.

•If you're interested in tickets through another ticket-exchange website, you can look up BBB ratings by searching "event tickets" at bbb.org. Before you buy tickets, be sure you understand the company's policy if tickets turn out to be fake or not as advertised.

•If you buy tickets through an online auction, pay attention to the seller's recent transaction history. Scammers can hijack old accounts to make it appear that they have good customer ratings.

•Don't let sellers lure you off the website to complete the transaction. Pay with a credit card or through PayPal, rather than cashier's check, gift card or wire transfer.

GAME-DAY SELLERS

•Check first with the Vikings ticket office. Sometimes tickets are available via visiting team and fan returns.

•Don't buy tickets on hard ticket stock. Vikings-authorized tickets are either digital or printed as letter-size PDFs. (Note: Super Bowl tickets will be issued on traditional tickets, not PDF print-outs, Lund said).

•Examine tickets for inaccuracies or alterations. Compare the seat number and price with the stadium map found on the Vikings' mobile app.

•Ask the seller to take a photo with their valid ID prior to the transaction. Or ask the seller to accompany you to the gate to be sure the tickets work.

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