Lady Gaga Fans: Beware of Craigslist Con

Ticket trap targets concert at Madison Square Garden

By Chris Glorioso
|  Friday, Feb 18, 2011  |  Updated 9:13 AM EDT
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If you see an offer that asks you to send money to an <a title=eBay payment agent, it's a fraud." />

If you see an offer that asks you to send money to an eBay payment agent, it's a fraud.

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A rip-off artist is trying to lure Lady Gaga fans into wiring cash for phony premium seats at a pair of Madison Square Garden concerts.

The events on February 21st and 22nd are sold out, but ads on Craigslist promise heavily-discounted tickets that are available through a “verified eBay payment agent.”

There is just one problem. The online auction site doesn’t employ payment agents. NBC New York contacted several consumers throughout the United States who told stories of being targeted by a similar scam, though not always for concert tickets.

“It all seemed pretty legitimate at the time,” said Aaron Brockler, an NFL fan who fell for the fraud while trying to buy Cleveland Browns tickets for $500. “He never responded to me after we sent him the payment.”

Brockler happens to be an assistant criminal prosecutor in Ohio. After conducting some research on the Craigslist post, he found the ad originated from either Romania or the United Kingdom.

NBC New York responded to a similar suspicious posts advertising Lady Gaga seats in the Loge 78 section of Madison Square Garden. The asking price was $900 per ticket. Similar seats on StubHub.com went for $1,600 or more.

The author of the ad sent us a fabricated invoice with eBay and PayPal logos requesting the $900 be wired by Western Union to an address in London.

“As soon as we saw the Western Union we stopped,” said Laila Watkins, a math teacher who was targeted by the scam as she shopped for NHL hockey tickets last year.

Watkins described receiving a fraudulent eBay invoice that is nearly identical to the bill NBC New York received after replying to the Lady Gaga Craigslist ad. “It was amazing to me,” said Watkins.

"It looked like a form email," she added. "It looked like a real email from eBay. I mean they had the little eBay symbols and trademarks. It looked legit.”

According to a statement from eBay, all legitimate eBay transactions begin and conclude inside the online auction site.

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