Visiting the Hamilton Pool Preserve is something on many bucket lists, just ask Esteban Gomez
“Texas has beautiful places. I started looking at good places to visit in Texas and Hamilton Pool came up,” said Gomez.
It took him a few minutes to make a reservation earlier this week, and he drove in from the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Friday morning.
“It was very easy. But for the good days, like the weekends, you have to do it actually weeks in advance,” said Gomez.
Travis County Parks officials started the reservation program in 2016, making it easier to deal with demand. But there is a problem.
“There have been a handful of individuals who have decided to make reservations in mass. They've been trying to sell those reservations online for profits,” said Michael Brewster, park supervisor.
It started happening last year, but Brewster says the problem got worse.
“It's definitely exploded this year. They've been using multiple email addresses, multiple names. It's been hard to identify them before they can make a lot of reservations,” said Brewster.
He says the "scalpers' sell the reservations on popular sites like Craigslist, for sometimes up to $50. A legitimate reservation online runs $11.
“It's a bad idea to buy a reservation online from a third party because they might be selling a forgery, they could be selling a copy of the legitimate reservation, or they could even make multiple copies. The county attorney office has pointed out that scalping is not illegal, however, entering false information into a government record is subject to prosecution,” said Brewster.
The Travis County Attorney Office is working with Travis County Parks to see what they can do, and working to determine if the bogus email and name users are breaking the law. Then, they can determine if there can be any legal consequences. In the meantime, Brewster says they will be stiffening their policy at Hamilton Pool.
“We are planning on asking for photo I.D. when people come in. We've tried to be lenient, but the scalpers have forced our hands,” said Brewster.