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Scammers Adjust Amid Shift to Digital Tickets for Super Bowl

Super Bowl tickets has transitioned to digital only.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — The last time the Philadelphia Eagles were in the Super Bowl, Chris DiSimone lost $5,000 due to phony tickets. 

Twice, DiSimone and his son, who was 13 then, tried to enter Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium in 2018 with tickets they thought were real.

Both times they were turned away, and they ended up watching their Eagles beat the New England Patriots from an Airbnb. 

“I felt so bad for my son,” DiSimone told Front Office Sports. “I brainwashed him from birth to be an Eagles fan. I still have the tickets mounted in a plague in the office to remind me what a dumb ass I was.”

Technology Advancement

  • The NFL transitioned to all-digital tickets at last year’s Super Bowl.
  • The move has prevented creative scammers from creating detailed replica tickets with the embedded hologram.
  • Fans looking to attend Sunday’s game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az., only can get tickets through the NFL’s OnePass app on iOS and Android

“Counterfeiting is a different ballgame,” Cathy Lanier, the NFL’s chief security officer, told Front Office Sports. “It takes a different skill set, but it remains a real threat. You need the app. You can’t get in with a screen shot [of the ticket code]. That won’t scan because those codes rotate constantly.”

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Jim Mancuso, director of the DHS’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, told FOS that fraudsters ”continue to invent new scams” even with digital ticketing. 

“You can’t go to these dodgy websites and think you’re going to get legitimate tickets,” Mancuso said. “You need to be a smart consumer. That doesn’t just go for the NFL tickets, but it goes for everyday life as well. You have to have discipline online.

When you’re going on sites that you’re not sure of, think twice about giving them your personal identifiable information, including your credit card information.”

Combatting Scam Artists

In 2018, the NFL established the NFL Ticketing Network, a consortium that includes TicketMaster’s NFL Ticket Exchange, StubHub, and SeatGeek. The purpose is to verify the authenticity of NFL tickets sold electronically. 

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“Always use a secure and trackable form of payment like a credit card,” said Michael Buchwald, senior counsel for the NFL. “Avoid cash transactions, which are risky and untraceable. If ordering through mobile or online, ensure that the site offers a fully secure ordering process that protects your personal information.”

Another piece of advice: Avoid tickets selling for below the going rates.

The ticket prices have decreased since the Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl, with the lowest prices around $3,500 on popular secondary ticket market sites.  

John McFarlane, founder of JMac Tickets, said the dubious characters that ascend on major sporting events don’t do the ticket industry any favors. 

“The street hustlers — or scalpers — were never a big part of the market,” McFarlane said. 

Priced Out

As for DiSimone, this year, he will watch his beloved Eagles at home, even as prices could sink to below any Super Bowl since the start of the pandemic. The price is out of reach financially this year. 

His house in Southern California was among the 20 homes lost or damaged in the Laguna Niguel wildfire last May. His son, who is now 18, will also attend college next year. 

“Money is a lot tighter this year,” DiSimone said. 

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