7 people from Philly accused of trafficking in fake tickets

Steve Tawa
January 31, 2019 - 2:06 pm
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) scores a touchdown past New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In the run-up to the Super Bowl, at a briefing in Atlanta, the Philadelphia area's top federal prosecutor revealed separate indictments charging 13 people with trafficking in counterfeit tickets for sporting and concert events, including the Eagles' Super Bowl championship last year.

Seven people from Philadelphia face charges.

Every year, eager fans turn up at big events, like the Super Bowl, only to be turned away at the gate on game day.

"When fans spend their hard earned money on NFL tickets and merchandise, they deserve the real deal," U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said.

The charges, in six criminal indictments, allege the defendants were involved in the production, distribution and sale of counterfeit tickets to sporting and concert events. McSwain says while some of the defendants purchased real tickets, others then printed counterfeit tickets for resale.

Then McSwain dispensed some cautionary advice for ticket buyers: "When you are buying tickets, you must consider the source."

The safest route is to always purchase from an approved source, he said.

"Many fans believe that if they are not purchasing tickets, for example, from a scalper on the street, that they are safe — that it's OK to buy tickets from a third-party website, because the sellers can be tracked and traced," McSwain said. "I'm here to tell you that is not always the case."

The events included the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl in Minneapolis, the previous years' Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl in Houston, the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, the FIFA World Cup qualifier soccer match between the U.S. and Costa Rica in Philadelphia, a Villanova NCCA basketball game, and a Phish concert in Philadelphia.

At the same briefing, federal prosecutors, the FBI, ICE and NFL officials talked about separately seizing nearly $25 million worth of fake sport-related merchandise. It resulted in 28 arrests and 21 convictions. Before them sat a pile of seized fake jerseys, hats, cell-phone accessories and other bogus items, prepared to be sold to unsuspecting customers.

A spokeswoman for the NFL thanked law enforcement for tackling the issue, by going after unscrupulous enterprises that are "preying on NFL fans and their enthusiams for the game, by counterfeiting in merchandise and tickets."