MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When big name artists are in town, the scam artists are never too far behind.
The boy band One Direction will be at Target Center July 18, and one mother from River Falls, Wis. hopes to save others from the scam she fell victim to, trying to buy tickets to the sold out show.
Molly Schultz’s 14-year-old daughter, Leahy, is a “directioner,” an avid fan who has 15 One Direction posters in her bedroom along with the group’s albums, dolls and other merchandise.
Schultz decided that tickets to the upcoming concert would be a perfect birthday gift.
“That’s a big deal. She loves them,” Schultz said. “I’m going to get tickets, so I decided to go on Craigslist.”
There, she found an ad offering two tickets on the main floor for $150 apiece.
In an exchange of text messages, the seller would not meet her in person, but asked her to buy a pre-paid card.
“I wrote, ‘I’m sorry, I’m uncomfortable doing it this way. I’m afraid I’ll be scammed,’” Schultz said.
The person then claimed to be a St. Paul police officer out of town on a family emergency.
“I wanted to make sure that it was real,” Schultz said, “and so I said ‘do you really have a picture of the tickets?’ And they sent me a picture of the tickets.”
She ultimately relented, bought a pre-paid card and gave the person the PIN number that allowed them to empty the card of cash.
“The next day, when I didn’t get any tickets, I said, ‘if you overnighted, they are not here yet. I am really feeling upset,’” she said. “That’s the last I’ve heard.”
Police told Schultz that scammers have ways of disguising their phone numbers, so the number Schultz was texting was not legitimate.
With no face-to-face meeting and no way to trace the calls, Schultz was out $300 and her daughter would not be going to the concert.
“I started crying,” Leahy Schultz said. “But not because I didn’t get the tickets, but because my mom spent all that money just to try to get me what I wanted.”
Molly Schultz said she has heard from others on Craigslist who lost money to the same person.
Craigslist does offer advice to avoid scams. The biggest tip is to deal locally with folks you can meet in person.