Allegheny County police investigating fake South Park balloon festival as part of nationwide scam

PITTSBURGH — It was a disappointing discovery this past weekend for people coming to Allegheny County’s South Park fairgrounds expecting to attend the Pittsburgh Balloon Glow festival, an event County Police say did not happen.

“They were all very confused. They were anticipating that they were going to be here for a hot air balloon festival. A lot of people brought their children or elderly parents, one individual had purchased these as a Mother’s Day present for her mother. [There was] a lot of disappointment and confusion,” said Sgt. Jonathan King, with Allegheny County Police.

According to King, an organization called Hot Air America advertised the two-day event for June 8 and 9, selling tickets ranging from $10 to $100 on the platform Eventbrite.

The event details describe it as, “A magical evening filled with glowing hot air balloons that light up the night sky.”

But County Police say the organizer’s permit application was denied and believe it’s part of a nationwide scam.

“This person puts on these events or allegedly puts on these events, advertises for them, collects fees, and then these events never take place. That’s part of the reason the permit was denied. We were concerned the person who applied for the permit was the same person who has previously done this sort of thing,” King said.

Facebook and Eventbrite posts by Hot Air America say the event has been postponed to next year for the same weekend and anyone who purchased tickets will automatically be refunded by June 12.

Sgt. Jonathan King recommends ticket buyers contact Eventbrite and their credit card companies about a refund.

He’s doubtful the event will happen next year.

“I would say that’s incredibly unlikely,” King said.

County Police are investigating and working with the District Attorney’s office, looking into potentially filing criminal charges against the event organizers.

Hot Air America is still advertising several other events for this summer on Eventbrite, including in the Chicago area in less than two weeks.

Channel 11 reached out to Hot Air America for comment but has not heard back.

Anyone with information is asked to call the County Police Tip Line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS.

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