The Ohio State athletic department has dealt with counterfeit tickets for football games in the past, but the recent uptick in counterfeits surfacing at the Schottenstein Center turnstiles for men’s basketball is a new challenge.
“It’s a problem we’ve dealt with for several years regarding football and we feel like we’ve taken a lot of measures to address those situations,” OSU’s senior director of ticketing, Brett Scarbrough, told The Lantern Monday. “It’s something that we’ve never experienced with men’s basketball before, even in past years when the team was really good.”
During the 2011-12 season, up to 50 high-quality counterfeit tickets per game have appeared, according to OSU athletics spokesman Dan Wallenberg. The athletic department is now working with Ohio State Police and Columbus Division of Police to quell the problem while also considering which measures will be taken to make men’s basketball tickets harder to illegally reproduce.
Scarbrough said the problem, which is limited to men’s basketball tickets, has come to light at the past few sold out men’s hoops games at the Schottenstein Center.
“This is the season ticket that comes on a sheet and, basically, its like a four-color, black and white theme,” Scarbrough said. “They are not reproducing the ones that you buy at the (ticket office) window.”
Based on information that has been gathered from fans who have fallen victim to the counterfeit operation, the sale of fake tickets taking place on game days appears to be happening on Lane Avenue between the Varsity Club restaurant and the Lane Avenue bridge.
University police chief Paul Denton said his department is aware of the situation and eager to take an appropriate report and investigation if fans are defrauded in the purchase of counterfeit tickets.
Denton said the potential penalty for counterfeiters would depend on the type of scale of the illegal reproducing operation.
“Everything from criminal trespass if someone is caught and would have the tickets in their possession up to, and including, theft, fraud, theft by deception,” Denton said of possible charges for culprits. “Penalties could range from a minimum of six months (in jail) and a $1,000 fine up to, and including, a two-year (prison) sentence or 18 months, and a $5,000 fine.
“We hope to prevent crime before it occurs, and that’s why we’re trying to warn folks to try to buy (tickets) from only legitimate sources.”
You might notice some more familiar scalpers closer to the Schottenstein Center property — “the regulars,” as Scarbrough called them. The regulars likely aren’t the culprits in this matter, though.
“‘The regulars,’… those guys all have a vendors’ tag and we’re pretty confident that its not those individuals,” Scarbrough said.
The City of Columbus requires that anyone re-selling tickets needs to obtain a vendor’s permit and those vendors are also restricted to a specific area where they may conduct business. That area is taped off.
Scarbrough also said the athletic department will investigate and implement new ways to make men’s basketball tickets harder to produce in the future.
“There’s special watermarks. There is ultra-violet ink. There is heat sensitive ink. Microprinting,” he said. “Of course, we’re going to be enhancing our security features on our tickets. Obviously, that’s going to change.”
Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets from the Ohio State athletics ticket office, ohiostatebuckeyes.com or Ticketmaster, according to a Thursday athletic department release. For sold-out games, fans seeking to buy tickets from other fans are encouraged to search listings on the Buckeyes TicketExchange, the only resale site that guarantees the tickets will be valid.
The Buckeyes will continue Big Ten play with a Tuesday game at 9 p.m. game at the Schottenstein Center.