TICKET TROUBLE: Fake Wild playoff tickets prompt warning - KMSP-TV

TICKET TROUBLE: Fake Wild playoff tickets prompt warning

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The Minnesota Wild's performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs has created a hungry fan base in the state of hockey, but those who hope to experience the energy at the Xcel Energy Center will want to be wary of street sales.

Team officials say the increased demand for tickets had also given rise to an increase of people trying to take advantage of fans. In one case, one person sold fake tickets to four separate couples, including Ross Mayer and his wife, Pam Niska.

Game 4 at the X saw the Wild pull even with the Blackhawks, and it was a tremendous moments for fans inside the arena.

"I was excited, I had never been to a playoff game," Mayer reflected.

Unfortunately, Mayer and Niska will still need to wait to enjoy that experience because hours before the game, Niska went to Craigslist to find a birthday gift for Mayer. That's when she found a posting that became a big problem.

"'I have amazing seats in hand for tonight's game. I'm local and will meet by the arena,'" Niska read.

Even though there were some warning signs -- including an out-of-state cell phone number and a request for no e-mails, she decided to go for it.

"Very unassuming looking gentleman," she said of the seller. "Seemed very honest."

Yet, when the couple went to the game, they were turned away at the gate because the tickets weren't valid. While they were at the box office, they found another couple had purchased the same tickets -- even the same seats -- from the same man.

When Fox 9 News called the number on the listing, a recording said only that a voicemail had not been set up.

"I feel bad," Mike Nowakowski, of Ticket King, said after hearing about the couple's experience. "I am a Wild fan, so I hate to see Wild fans get scammed."

According to Nowakowski, most scams come from Craigslist ads. He suggests never paying cash for tickets and said if they are offered well below the going rate, that's a big red flag. He also warns customers to stay away from printed paper tickets unless they know the seller personally.

"The problem with those tickets: People can make copy after copy after copy, and then it's a race to the gate because the first ticket is good," he explained. "It doesn't matter if there are 500 printed tickets. After the first one, you are not getting in."

That's exactly what happened to Pam and Ross, and that's why they decided to tell their story.

"My thought after all this was, 'Wow. We can handle this loss; we are fortunate -- but there might be someone out there that can't,'" Niska said.

The next time Niska buys from someone on the street, she plans to take their picture and ask to see their ID, but the Minnesota Wild is urging anyone who wants tickets to use the ticket exchange via Ticketmaster.

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