NCAA Sanctions May be Reason for Drop in Ticket Scalping
Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham says a decline in scalping outside of Beaver Stadium can likely be attributed to the significant sanctions the NCAA issued against the university's football program.
Two years ago, the NCAA doled out unprecedented sanctions to Penn State in response to how the university handled the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The sanctions included a massive reduction in scholarships and a four-year ban to college bowls.
In an interview Thursday about scalping, Parham said the problem has declined since the sanctions went into effect.
Scalping is not uncommon for Penn State events, but the frequency of illegal sales depends on the demand for tickets, Parham says.
When the Penn State football team has a winning season, more scalpers hang outside the stadium.
"Several seasons back it was almost every game we would have this challenge," Parham says. "If we anticipate high demand and people violating the law, as staffing permits, we will staff officers in plain clothes. We'll anticipate the issue."
While not as common of an offense these days, police did recently file charges for an alleged scalping incident that happened in October.
Police filed charges Tuesday against 41-year-old Anthony Bledsoe for allegedly selling a $55 Michigan game ticket on Oct. 12 to an undercover officer for $100.
In Pennsylvania it is illegal to resell a ticket for more than 25 percent over the face value.
"Once the transaction happened the undercover officer identified himself and explained ticket scalping rules," Parham says.
For a first offense, the violation is a summary offense. Police charged Bledsoe with a misdemeanor, as this was not his first offense for unlawful resale of a ticket.
Parham said scalpers get their tickets in three main ways: they show up to the stadium early to buy tickets legitimately from someone else, buy tickets in advance online or make fraudulent tickets to sell.
"The concern extends beyond the resell because we end up having people buying counterfeit tickets," Parham says. "You could have a situation where 10 people have tickets for the same set of seats."
Police have also seen issues with transactions on the street, where a buyer doesn't receive the right amount of change in return or the scalper uses fake money as change for the buyer.
Most of the time, it's too late to help a victim after the transaction takes place.
"At that point they're out of money. They bought this ticket that won't work at the gate. A lot of times they will go to the ticket office for help, but the ticket office can't help them," Parham says. "They can't just give them over a ticket to get them in the stadium."
Parham said the best way to avoid such trouble is to only purchase tickets from a person the buyer knows.
"Never buy a ticket from someone you don't know. Don't wait until you're duped," he says.