Summer event season is also scam season—prime time for fraudulent ticket sellers to ply their trade. Knowing how to spot them can save you from a night of disappointment, not to mention saving you a whole lot of money.
"When you have thousands of people who are all trying to get in to see a big-name act like U2, or Beyonce, or Major League Baseball playoffs, for example, chances are you're going to have scalpers out there who are going to try to defraud consumers," said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud at the National Consumers League.
Of course, the fraudsters can strike any time of year and in any number of ways. Beth and Larry Charbonneau of Florida found that out the hard way in 2012, after they submitted the winning bid of $12,000 in a charity auction for two tickets to the Grammy Awards, complete with a star-studded weekend in Hollywood. The auction was put together by Donald Mitchell "Ski" Johnson, a jazz saxophonist, unabashed self-promoter and creator of what he calls the "Jazz for Life Foundation." Johnson is profiled on the next episode of CNBC's "American Greed."
Of course, there were no Grammy tickets, which Beth only found out after traveling all the way to Los Angeles with a friend. They also found themselves stuck with the hotel bill.
"You keep telling yourself like, 'No, this isn't really happening,'" she told "American Greed." "Maybe there was a snafu with the tickets. But then you realize no, this is a big con."
A jury eventually convicted Johnson of a single count of wire fraud in a similar scheme defrauding a Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in Montana. Authorities allege he repeated the scam across the country, bilking consumers and charities out of tens of thousands of dollars. But Johnson disputes that claim.