Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Defrauded fan's website warns public of Jets tickets ripoffs

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A Winnipeg Jets fan who lost $1,000 in a ticket scam is hoping other victims will come forward via a new website he created and help prevent other people from getting similarly ripped off.

Chris, who didn't want his last name used, said he can hardly believe the traffic on stolenjetstickets.com just hours after he created the site early Monday morning.

"I'm trying to warn people and get information out there so nobody else has their Christmas wrecked," he said.

Chris said he was as pumped up as any hockey fan when it was announced the NHL was returning to Winnipeg last May. He tried to buy season tickets when they went on sale but couldn't get through.

"So, I did what many people who wanted to go to a game did, I bought tickets off Kijiji. I've used it for years with other goods, including concert tickets, and never had a problem," he said.

He bought one pair of Jets tickets on the buy-and-sell website and enjoyed a Jets victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. But the bottom dropped out when he gave another pair to a client, who was refused entry and had to explain to police officers and True North officials why he had stolen tickets.

Chris, who bought the same seats for a number of other games, was told those tickets had been stolen from a season-ticket holder and cancelled. Realizing this money was gone, he took the information he had, including some videotaped conversations with the guy who sold him the tickets, and posted them on the site.

Scott Brown, spokesman for the Jets, said fans who weren't able to buy season tickets last June should steer clear of unsanctioned websites and only buy from the team's ticket exchange portal at www.winnipegjets.com.

"We've been warning people for months. Even before the ticket exchange program was up, we were telling fans it was going to be up. The difficulty is there aren't enough tickets out there to meet the demand. I think over time, as people realize the viability and security of the ticket exchange program, more people, including suppliers, will use it," he said.

Because demand so far outstrips supply, a significant number of ticket holders continue to try to earn a profit by selling tickets at more than face value.

"Even though that's illegal, tons of people are trying to do it. People are willing to go on Kijiji and put themselves at considerable risk," Brown said.

Winnipeg police are currently looking into several cases of ticket fraud, according to Const. Natalie Aitken.

"Winnipeggers need to use caution when purchasing anything online, especially Jets tickets, if they're not sure about the validity (of the tickets)," she said.

Aitken said police investigators are finding it challenging because many online transactions take place weeks or months before a particular game and by the time the victim has reported the situation, the sellers have moved on or assumed a new online moniker and phone number. She said police are working closely with True North Sports & Entertainment to identify fraudsters.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2011 A3

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Updated on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 10:40 AM CST: Corrects typo in cutline

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