AUSTIN, Texas - The countdown has begun for one of Austin’s most popular events of the year, Austin City Limits (ACL).
"It happens every time a major sporting event happens, every time a festival is in town, especially with ACL in early October, we see a lot of these ramp up on Facebook Marketplace," said Jason Meza, senior regional director of San Antonio for the BBB Serving the Heart of Texas.
The Austin City Limits Music Festival draws hundreds of thousands to Austin every year. Tickets from the official vendor sell out fast, and many turn to a third-party source.
"Social media and Craigslist are the top two places people go, and they get duped," said Meza. "Unfortunately, cyber criminals look like regular people, but they steal profiles, they steal pictures, they hack into real people's accounts and try to pass off tickets as real tickets."
Meza recommended researching any account that you’re attempting to buy from. If they ask for a payment via digital wallets like Zelle or Cash App and won't accept a credit card, that's a red flag. Avoid paying in advance.
If you are purchasing from a third-party website, check the URL for any irregularities.
"For example, ‘ACL Festival-1.com,'" said Meza. "They add little characters. Zeros can be O’s, you know, they'll switch out characters."
Perpetrators can range from individuals to organized crime groups.
"We would say the majority of the time, maybe 80% of the time, they're professional criminal rings that do their homework. They research the big events coming to cities," said Meza. "They may even pay money to take out sponsored ads on Google and your marketplaces to attract people to come to their sites."
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Another risk of buying a secondhand wristband - it could be stolen.
Last year, Austin resident Cynthia Seifert purchased tickets from the official ACL ticket vendor, but when her package arrived in the mail, it appeared the wristbands had been stolen out of the packaging. The vendor told her she could pick up new ones and they deactivated the stolen wristbands.
However, a potential buyer of stolen wristbands may not know they have purchased deactivated wristbands until they get to the gate.
"If you're going to buy resale ACL tickets, make sure you activate them in front of the person before you give them the money," said Seifert.
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