Target 11 investigates counterfeit Steelers tickets



PITTSBURGH - Tonight, a warning for Pittsburgh Steelers fans after Target 11 discovers counterfeit Steelers tickets being sold in Pittsburgh.

Steelers tickets are tough to score. It's one of the hottest tickets in town -- and perhaps across the country. A Channel 11 viewer contacted Target 11 after he purchased four tickets to a home game, and those tickets turned out to be counterfeit.

Mike Denham told Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle that he found four tickets to the Steelers home game against the Eagles back in October on Craigslist.

Denham is a season ticket holder, but he needed the extra tickets for relatives who were coming to town for the game. Denham contacted the seller by email and then spoke to him by phone.

Denham agreed to meet the seller in downtown Pittsburgh several days before the game. But Denham told Target 11 he decided to shoot some video of the seller with his cellphone just in case the tickets didn't pan out.

Denham met the seller and, after inspecting the tickets, agreed to pay $600 cash for the four tickets. Denham asked the seller for his identification, but the seller said he was running late and forgot his wallet.

"He said his grandfather bought the tickets and they were going to go to the game together, but he couldn't use them, so they were selling them at what appears to be a loss," said Denham.

Denham said he even called Ticketmaster that night, and he said Ticketmaster confirmed that it did indeed sell the tickets, but it wouldn't release any information about the seller.

"He said, 'If you have any problems, here's my receipt from the credit card when I bought tickets, and here's thetickets. If you have any problems, call me,'" said Denham.

But when they got to the gate at Heinz Field, they ran into some big problems. After scanning the tickets, they were told they were no good.

Denham said they called the seller, but the number was disconnected. They also emailed him, but the email came back.

Target 11 inspected the tickets and even compared them to some legitimate Ticketmaster tickets, and it's tough to tell the difference. They are printed on the front and back with the word "Ticketmaster" on them. There are row, section and seat numbers, along with the game time.

Target 11 took the tickets to the FBI. Investigators are looking into the counterfeit tickets because it involves a trademark. An FBI agent pointed out something on the back of the ticket that Target 11 never noticed.

The fine print on the back talks about baseball and the New York Yankees. It doesn't even mention football.

"Any Yankee home game within 12 months of original game if available," is printed on the back of the ticket.

Target 11 also showed the counterfeit tickets to Pittsburgh Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten.

"They have everything that's pretty much on a ticket. It's scary to think that there's people out there that are trying to scam people like this," said Lauten, who told Target 11 that this is precisely why the Steelers are always warning fans to purchase tickets from authorized sites only, like ticket exchange at or Ticketmaster, not from sellers they find on craigslist.

"You are taking a chance of getting scammed like this, which is a very unfortunate situation for all of our fans," said Lauten.

Denham knows he probably won't ever get the money back, but he's hoping to prevent what happened to him from happening to anyone else.

"If nothing else, recognize him and not get ripped off," said Denham.

Target 11 also attempted to contact the seller but didn't have any luck.

Anyone who recognizes the man in the cellphone video is asked to contact Pittsburgh police detectives at Zone Two.

Target 11 also repeatedly reached out to Ticketmaster, and it said initially it would talk to the station, but reporters never heard back from them. It did send us some information fans can use to protect themselves from falling victim to counterfeit ticket schemes.