Internet scams are alive and well, and a new story of bogus Super Bowl XLVII tickets should help remind folks to be extremely careful where they send their money—even for the game of their dreams.
Desperate to acquire tickets to see the San Francisco 49ers play on Feb. 3 in New Orleans, Sharon Osgood—a Niners fan—payed nearly double face value to get four seats for approximately $5,900. She wired the money to the address listed after conversing over Craigslist, and the package she received in the mail had fraud written all over it.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 5:30 p.m. ET by Brian Leigh
Fear not, those who lost faith in humanity upon reading this story. Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard is here to restore it. Per Mike Rosenberg of The Mercury News, the powerful ticket magnate is arranging to send Sharon Osgood and her loved ones to the game after all:
After this newspaper's story on the couple was read around the country Tuesday, Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard called Hayward resident Sharon Osgood to offer four free tickets for her, her boyfriend and other family members who got scammed. Hubbard also arranged for Osgood and her partner to have breakfast with NFL legend Troy Aikman.
Once the dirtbag responsible for this scam is apprehended, we might actually look back on this story as a happy one. Really just incredible class on the part of Hubbard.
---End of update---
As the Mercury News' Mike Rosenberg reported, Osgood opened the package expecting to see four tickets. Instead, she had to deal with the wrath of a Baltimore Ravens fan on top of realizing her small fortune is now someone's belated Christmas present.
Here's the message Osgood saw when she opened her package, written right under a montage of starting quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco:
"Enjoy the game!!!! Go Ravens!!! LOL."
"I'm just sick—like, physically sick," said Osgood, a 49-year-old Hayward resident and Candlestick Park season-ticket holder for the past four seasons. "All over the envelope it says 'go Ravens'—even on the FedEx label."
The scam artist has not returned calls made to the phone number and address listed on the FedEx package, and likely never will.
Ignoring warning signs from websites like Craigslist (the bottom of the page says "Do NOT wire funds") can be a disaster during the desperation that results from wanting tickets to the most hotly contested game of the year in North America.
WUSA 9, a broadcasting station based in Washington, D.C. that serves other patrons in the area, came out with a great list of reminders on Tuesday, complete with tips to avoid getting scammed like Osgood did trying to get a ticket to see her favorite team play.
It's a good reminder for fans in the next week, especially when ads are going to pick up that include the tag "Super Bowl Tickets."
It didn't work out for Osgood, but she still plans on making the trip to New Orleans by RV and watching the game, even if that means doing it somewhere on Bourbon Street.
Her passion for the game is admirable, particularly after losing that much money in an online scam. It's that kind of passion is something that makes football great, but it should also remind fans to be careful when getting googly eyes over an Internet ad that's likely too good to be true.