If you're looking for a ticket to Saturday's Phoenix Suns game, get ready to spend a lot of money, and since they are sold out, you'll have to find tickets on resale sites.
You'll find the best prices from individual sellers on Craigslist and similar sites, but is it worth the risk?
"How you vet that out and ensure you're buying an actual ticket vs. fraud, it's a real challenge," says Kyle Pottinger, Suns Senior Vice President for Ticket Sales and Service.
Pottinger says during these playoffs, he's seen people buy tickets from an individual, drive to Phoenix from out of town, and find they don't have a legitimate ticket to get in.
After I checked Craigslist for tickets, it's easy to understand why someone might take the risk.
StubHub, Ticketmaster, and other resale sites list tickets for Saturday's game starting between $600 and $700 -- and those are for the highest, furthest-away seats.
On Craigslist, I found much better seats for $300, $200, even $150.
I contacted one of the $200 sellers by text to see what would happen.
I asked for two tickets and, quickly, they asked if I had Zelle or a similar app to transfer money.
They gave me an address and asked me to send $400 texting, "please let me know after sending the money." That's when they would send my tickets.
But I know sending money by a payment app is like sending cash -- once it's sent, it's gone and if you don't get anything for it, you're done.
So, I asked for proof that these tickets were real.
The seller sent screenshots of what appeared to be actual tickets. Then she sent a picture of herself holding a license with all of the information scratched out and texting, "look, I'm not fake."
When the seller wouldn't meet with me, I moved on to a different seller.
As I resisted sending money to this seller, they lowered the ticket price from around $300 to just $50 each.
Before you spend any money with an individual, here are some signs it could be a scam:
- Sending cash upfront before getting anything
- Prices that are too low compared to legitimate resellers
- Getting a hard copy ticket because they are no longer used
- Relying on a screenshot since legitimate tickets can no longer be copied like that
Pottinger says all tickets are now digital and are delivered that way.
Each legitimate ticket has a barcode that regenerates every two seconds to prevent copying and fraud.
Based on his experience, Pottinger says unless you know the person, buying from an individual seller is too risky.
While you do pay more on resale sites, you can use a credit card to pay, which allows you to dispute charges and is much safer than sending cash.
"You would submit payment through the site then receive that ticket digitally, and that ensures everything is legitimate and safe," Pottinger says.
I did respond to one more ad...
Somehow it ended up being the same seller I contacted earlier through a different ad. She must not have realized that.
She again sent the same picture of herself, but this time, the driver's license she held was filled out with what looked like written-in information. It also had a picture and a name: Henry.
I checked with the Suns about the ticket screenshots sent by one seller. They say the tickets show real seats, but they belong to a season ticket holder who spent $804 on them and likely would not be selling them for $200 or less.
Protect yourself before buying tickets with these warnings from the Arizona Attorney General's office.
Ticketmaster also shares protections before you buy -- see those here.