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Creative ticket scalpers trick ballet fan into overpaying for Nutcracker seats

Creative ticket scalpers trick ballet fan into overpaying for Nutcracker seats (Photo:KUTV)

(KUTV) Tickets to Ballet West's performance of The Nutcracker were what Marsha Webster wanted to get for her husband's 70th birthday. She turned to her son, Darrin, for help.

"I just used Google and typed in, ‘Nutcracker tickets Utah 2017,’ and followed the website from there," he said.

Darrin says he thought he was on Capitol Theater's official website, Arttix.org, but he wasn't. Instead, he ended up at a third-party seller who had mocked up their website to look like Art Tix.

"It seemed like a legitimate site, down to letting us select the seats we want,” Darrin said.

It wasn't until Marsha checked her credit card statement that she realized she'd paid a lot more than the $47 face value for the seats.

“Everybody was happy until we found out that they were $447 for the two tickets,” she said.

Now, when she calls the fake-Art-Tix website to ask for a refund, she says nobody will respond.

“I was shocked. I was angry. I was sad,” she said.

Marsha's complaint is a familiar one to Sarah Pearce, Division Director for the Salt Lake County’s Center for the Arts.

“If you just google, ‘Capitol Theater,’ or, “Nutcracker,’ you're going to get a bunch of different websites and you want to go to Art Tix,” Pearce said.

Pearce says she hears complaints about ticket scalpers for almost all shows, but the big shoes tend to be the most problematic. For example, the Broadway hit ‘Hamilton’ will be coming the Eccles Theater next year. Tickets for the show won't even go on sale until the Spring but scalper websites are already offering them.

"If you go online you will see tickets for sale,” Pearce said. “Those are all re-sellers. Some are legit. Some are not."

For Marsha, it's a wildly expensive lesson learned about making sure to shop on the right website.

Stories like Marsha's also have the attention of lawmakers.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate ticket scalping.

The Utah legislature has also debated putting a cap on how much tickets can legally be resold for above the ticket's face value in Utah. There is not currently a law on the books that sets a cap.

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