CLEVELAND - With three big games against Golden State, Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the coming weeks, officials from the Cleveland Cavaliers are urging fans to be wary of potential ticket scams lurking on the internet.
Jon Straniak of Parma knows all too well what can happen after he says he was victimized by two separate scam artists at the same time.
Straniak said he purchased two tickets earlier this month through a seller on the popular website OfferUp.com. The website allows people to buy and sell just about anything. Straniak said he purchased tickets for Monday’s tilt against Golden State and paid via PayPal, only after verifying the seller’s identity and Flash Seats account.
Then, on Monday, he found two more tickets to the Golden State game that had a better view of the action. Straniak’s plan was to sell the original tickets and take his wife to the game as part of an anniversary gift - both have been fans of the Cavaliers their entire lives.
Straniak said he paid cash for the new pair of tickets. In total, he spent $800 for the four tickets. The next day, Straniak said he received an email from Flash Seats notifying him that his tickets had been transferred.
“I hurried up and logged into my Flash Seats account and not only are those seats gone, all four tickets are now gone,” Straniak said. “We were pumped but now we have a full view of the court from our couch. [My wife is] not too happy.”
Straniak said he immediately called Flash Seats and a supervisor told him that it appears he had been the victim of a scam. Both sellers appeared to have called their respective banks and reported the original purchase of the two pairs of tickets as fraudulent. Once the bank canceled the transaction, the tickets were transferred back to Flash Seats, Straniak said.
“I was mad. I was furious. I went to the police. They said they couldn’t help me. I tried getting into contact with both the people I bought tickets from,” Straniak said. “The one guy started responding and swearing up and down, saying, ‘I didn’t scam you, I didn’t scam you.’”
One of the sellers Straniak purchased tickets from was a man who used the alias “Jay Ticket King.” The account was created just this month and has not been verified, according to OfferUp’s website. A quick glance at Jay Ticket King’s profile shows he had three separate ‘for sale’ postings advertising the same pair of tickets.
News 5 contacted Jay Ticket King by calling the phone number listed on one of the ads, which also specifies that he only accepts Flash Seats transfers. When asked if he, in fact, scammed Staniak, Jay replied, "Yeah, I mean no. I never even got the chance to sell my tickets." The online posting shows that the tickets were sold.
“The thing is I actually got scammed out of a couple tickets myself. I bought some tickets offline and what happened was, they disappeared on me, you know?” the man said.
The man’s story often contradicted itself. At one point, he said he didn’t have the tickets. At another point, he said he sold the tickets. He also couldn’t remember the name of the person who he said scammed him.
Straniak listened in to the conversation and shook his head in disgust.
“No truth to that story at all, any of it,” Straniak said.
Team officials said it is extremely rare that one person would be victimized by two ticket-related scams at the same time. As more and more ticket sales move online, team officials have become adept at spotting and preventing fraudulent transactions, a spokesperson said. However, the only way to truly guarantee that the tickets are, in fact, genuine is to purchase the tickets through the team’s official Flash Seats page.