Whilst England is still basking in the warm glow of winning the Ashes, down in Melbourne it is coming to the end of the Australian Rules Football season and that means The Grand Final. Anyone who has tried to get an AFL grand final ticket knows just how hard it can be. Last year one in five tickets were slated for corporate use. Competing clubs had to split 30,000 tickets, while the MCC accounted for 25,000 and the AFL Reserve, including Medallion Club members got 21,000.
That only left 7340 to clubs — who in turn used 5000 of these for lucrative corporate sales or were given to sponsors. That left very few tickets available to the General Public.
Given the popularity of AFL footy finals, some fans will do almost anything to get a ticket on finals day if their side make the championship game. Many turn to the internet, and search websites such as Ebay, Gumtree, and even websites purporting to sell “AFL Finals Packages”.
This is a risky avenue. There are many stories of desperate fans paying hundreds, in some cases thousands of dollars, for finals tickets that turn out to be fake.
In January 2013, a Sydney man was arrested for selling fake tickets to 2013 AFL Grand finale. It was alleged that he advertised non-existent tickets online at a cost of $200 to $800 per ticket .
The same person was also alleged to have sold punters fake tickets to Swedish House Mafia concerts in Sydney and Melbourne; the Soundwave music festivals in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.
Buying tickets online via websites such as Gumtree, Alibaba or eBay is unreliable because you simply cannot guarantee the legitimacy of the ticket or whether tickets actually exist at all!
It is not just the big ticket games either. Last year the AFL put a warning out that scalpers were selling fake tickets for Anzac Day's Collingwood-Essendon clash and warned the public of the risks of buying ticket through non-official means.
In the State of Victoria, It is actually illegal to buy tickets that are significantly over and above the face value of the ticket and if the AFL are made aware of such a transaction, can cancel the ticket.
The problem is growing, and if we look outside the AFL the same issues occur.
International sporting events and concerts featuring international artists attracts scammers from around the world to attempt to scam excited Aussie fans in search of scares tickets.
One particular scam punters should be aware of is websites promoting sporting event packages. These scams traditionally target the Olympic Games; Commonwealth Games; Rugby, Cricket and Soccer World Cups; AFL and NRL Grand Finals and numerous concerts by popular artists.
Normally, these bogus websites are turned on just before an event, and look confusingly similar to the official channel website. In many cases, punters are not even oblivious that they have been scammed until they turn up to the airport or the event, and there are no records of their bookings.
In 2010, FIFA closed down 100 fake sites selling bogus tickets to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In 2014, 50 people were turned away at the gates from World Cup games using tickets that only scanner could detect the fake.
Buying tickets online through non-official channels is fraught with risk, and it is very much “buyer beware”. If you don’t know the buyer, or the web address is not the official ticket partner, it is recommended that you should consider alternative means to getting your event tickets.
Remember, watching the grand final from home is better than watching the grand final home, minus a few hundred dollars.