Counterfeiting Leads Ohio State to Nix Printable Tickets

Paul Steinbach Headshot

After taking steps to warn fans of the potential for fraudulent online ticket sales, Ohio State University has resorted to suspending its print-at-home ticketing program ahead of the winter sports season.

Four days before the Buckeyes' home football game against rival Michigan on Nov. 24, OSU's department of athletics issued a press release warning fans about fraudulent sales, particularly in the form of PDF-style printable tickets. It listed authorized sellers as Ticketmaster, the Ohio State ticket office and the Ohio State ticket exchange. An email to fans during the week leading up to the game encouraged fans to cover ticket barcodes when posting photos of them on social media. Social media is another channel used by the athletic department to reach fans prior to the start of the football season and before big games.

Still, some 300 individuals arrived at the turnstiles Nov. 24 with tickets that weren't legitimate. In some cases, the bar code was scanned and rejected. In others, the barcode worked but the seat assignment had been manipulated to scam buyers into thinking they would be sitting in seats worthy of higher pricing. Such tickets could come from such unauthorized sources as StubHub, eBay and Craig's List. "Tickets that are printed in a PDF format, printed on a home computer, those are very easy to manipulate," associate athletic director Brett Scarborough told The Lantern student newspaper. "Fans that don’t have a trained eye can easily get duped."

The often emotional confrontations that result from fans being turned away have factored into Ohio State's decision to simply scrap the whole concept.

"A step we’ve taken moving forward is we’re eliminating the option to print tickets to PDF, which is where industrywide a lot of the counterfeit tickets are being seen," Kate Nushart, director of ticket operations and analytics at Ohio State, told The Lantern. "What we’re doing moving forward is allowing customers to either use traditional, hard tickets that we would print or that Ticketmaster would print, or their mobile phone for entry."

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