I want to share something that happened to me and my friends this weekend.
“I successfully buy tickets off of craigslist all the time for shows at 9:30, U street music hall, Echostage, and sometimes, big budget shows at the Verizon Center. I will never do the last one again.
There is an organized system of ticket scammers for the biggest shows that come into town. I know many will read this and say “duh!” but I feel strongly in sharing this story so others do not repeat my mistake.
I bought 4 tickets to the Adele concert on Sunday off of a craigslist ad that was not supported by a third party scalper or any sort of buisness. Instead it was written earnestly, in the same way I would write an ad, with an above face-value price for four floor tickets. I went back and forth with the seller and settled on a price. I also asked the seller to send me a photo of the tickets, which he did. Also, in all the email exchanges, his messages were signed off with the “sent by an iphone” message.
The seller then asked for my phone number to meet, which I gave. He then offered to drop the price some more if I wanted an additional ticket. I said yes. Red flag, I know. At this point, I was buying four tickets at face value. I did notice that when he texted me from his 304 number that the text bubbles were green (suddenly not an Iphone user?). I asked if I could Venmo, he said cash only.
I purposefully picked a public space to make the exchange, was joined by a friend, and made sure some bystanders (the employees of Hazel restaurant, to be exact) were around us. (Thanks Hazel!) A young man walked over to us, handed me four printed Ticketmaster tickets (absolutely identical) and a print out invoice with Ticketmaster branding with his full name and address on it. Everything checked out. I made the guy linger for about 10-15 minutes to be sure we were seen by people. I thanked the guy and he left. I very much believe he is on the surveillance footage of Hazel restaurant. TBD.
Oddly, a couple of hours later, my friend and I were walking down U street and we ran into the guy and a bunch of his friends. We waved hello and he said “enjoy the show!” His friends seemed to know who we were and also said “have a great time!” and other things like that.
In the back of the my mind, the entire thing felt off but I ignored the feeling. I then noticed that the set time on the tickets was 30 minutes earlier than what Verizon Center posted online. At this point, there wasn’t anything I could do.
We show up at Verizon Center the next evening and all four tickets scanned as “void” on their scanners. We went to the box office and were met by THRONGS of people, some in tears, with void tickets in their hands, fighting to get in line for new tickets. It was amazing how many people were scammed for this one concert. I heard things like “Sir, that is not even a section in our venue.” Most interesting to me, Verizon Center plans for this and holds off sections for last minute purchases. We bought legitimate tickets on the spot and were told to file a police report.
The show was amazing and I’m grateful to the box office for holding spots for this purpose. However, the brazen attitude of this scammer, his friends, and the entire exchange angers me. I am headed to the police station today to share the story and I know I will be met with “Never buy tickets off of craigslist.” This upsets me so much because for smaller shows, I’ve had really honest exchanges with so many people in DC on craigslist. I’ve even met concert buddies that way! There’s something about these major concerts that bring the scammers out. For anyone that is buying tickets to Adele’s show tonight, PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Now I know to always consider going to the box office on the day of the show as they WILL have tickets even if a show says it is sold out!
Description of the seller: 6 feet tall, black, thin. Age: Late 20s, early 30s. Clothes: Red puffy vest, red baseball hat, matching red sneakers, khaki pants. His photo to me of the ticket is also attached.
He went by Sebastian.
In retrospect, the craigslist ad wasn’t that earnest, but there was no fanfare about it and I would write it that way, which is why I went with it. Also the section checked out as a real one for Adele’s show. The seating chart for her show is different from Verizon’s usual set up. The craigslist ad is still up.”