She’s selling out arenas across the country, and Chicago is one of her next stops: Taylor Swift is drawing thousands of fans to her “Eras Tour” every weekend she sings, and from June 2-4, Swift will play a show Sold-out at Soldier Field, with Swifties joining in, hand in hand.
But there is a hidden trap that fans can fall into if they are not careful.
Chicago father James Imlach knows that trap all too well and hopes his story will serve as a warning to others.
Imlach explained that he hoped to get three Eras Tour tickets for his daughter and her two friends, as a present for their upcoming high school graduation.
So last month, Imlach said he turned to the online platform OfferUp and began messaging a vendor who said he had three tickets for sale.
“It started [with] text messages back and forth,” Imlach explained. “That guy sent me a photo of himself.”
Everything was going well, Imlach thought, until he sent his money.
“I paid Zelle the $660,” Imlach said. “And at first, she told me, ‘I’m having trouble with the internet, I’m having trouble charging my phone,’ but I kept my cool. And then she sent me a ticket out of the three that I ordered.
Imlach said he compared that single ticket to an authentic one a friend had bought, only to realize it was a fake.
“I fell in love,” he said. “I was a fool, I was a gullible.”
OfferUp is now investigating what happened and told NBC 5 Responds that it has since locked the seller’s account in that case.
Imlach said he tried to get his money back from Zelle, but had no luck, as the wire transfer service isn’t like your typical bank when it comes to chargebacks.
“Zelle isn’t interested, and the banks behind it aren’t interested, in terms of helping people, especially if they’ve been scammed,” Kevin Brasler of Consumers’ Checkbook told NBC 5 Responds in an earlier report.
Zelle has explained that it’s essentially just the courier, communicating money transfers from one bank account to another, but never holding the funds, meaning only banks can issue refunds in cases of fraud.
Imlach said he contacted his bank, Huntington National Bank, but was told by a representative that he could not get the funds back.
A Huntington National Bank spokesman said he could not comment on Imlach’s individual case, in accordance with its privacy policies, but shared an important warning for all consumers.
“Zelle should only be used to send money to friends, family and people you trust,” a Huntington Bank spokesperson said. “Zelle should not be used for goods or services, and should not be used to send money to recipients you are not familiar with or trust.”
Imlach hopes Swift fans will listen to her story and take it as a warning.
“Unfortunately, I trusted someone, a complete stranger, and not only did I not get the tickets, but I also didn’t get my money back,” Imlach explained. “He cheated on me”.
The Taylor Swift trap that Imlach fell into is one that the Better Business Bureau warns is seeing a large number of consumers in Chicago fall into.
“I’ve been doing this for 36 years and this is probably the most times we’ve ever seen people ask for tickets and the most ads we’ve ever seen on the secondary ticket market,” said Steve Bernas of the BBB. “So with that come the scammers.”
Safety Checklist for Purchasing Secondary Market or Resale Tickets
With the concert more than a week away, NBC 5 Responds and the Better Business Bureau have a safety checklist for anyone looking for tickets on the secondary market:
- Make sure you buy tickets from a verified seller. If it is online, through a platform like OfferUp, know the company’s policies. For example, with OfferUp, the app recommends only paying for tickets electronically using your payment protection plan, rather than using a bank transfer like Zelle. And if the seller says they’ll only accept Zelle, know that’s a red flag.
- Use your credit card for purchases. It’s the payment method that often offers the best fraud protection, but check with your bank as there are sometimes fine print you need to be aware of.
- Search for resale tickets on your own social network. The BBB strongly recommends against buying tickets from complete strangers if you can help it.
- Be skeptical and check the authenticity of secondary market tickets. Thieves can fake barcodes and tickets, so make sure everything you buy is authentic.
- Does it pass the smell test? If a ticket price seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. In the Taylor Swift example, the resale tickets were priced at more than $1,000 each.
For more tips on finding Taylor Swift tickets, click here.