ST. PAUL-Some people who pinned their hopes on attending the Super Bowl in Minneapolis fell victim to scammers - law enforcement found 154 counterfeit tickets on game day, officials said Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The number of fake tickets presented at the game was seven times more than those discovered in Houston during last year's Super Bowl, according to Minneapolis police Lt. Kim Lund.
Officers arrested 19 people over Super Bowl weekend, plus Bloomington police said they arrested four or five people in possession of counterfeit tickets at a hotel and at the Mall of America.
Additional fake tickets were found during the arrests, Lund said.
People spent $400 to $5,000 on counterfeit Super Bowl tickets and didn't find out they were fake until they arrived at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4.
"There were no extra tickets - there was no way that we could get somebody into the Super Bowl if they had a counterfeit ticket, period," said Shawn Neudauer, Department of Homeland Security public affairs officer. "It's especially heartbreaking when there's kids involved and there were several families that came in from out of state."
Investigations are underway and individuals could face charges in state court for selling counterfeit tickets and in federal court for distributing counterfeit merchandise, Neudauer said.
In the 10 days around the Super Bowl, teams of officers set up undercover buys from Craigslist and purchased both game tickets and tickets to popular concerts in town for the Super Bowl, said Minneapolis police Cmdr. Christopher Granger. They found one person selling a fake all-access pass to Super Bowl events and the game.
Minneapolis police "saw a steady increase in the number and types of counterfeit tickets as the season progressed," Granger said.
Those seen at the Vikings playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium were quite sophisticated, Lund said.
"They're probably the best fakes I've seen and I've been doing this 20 years," she said. The counterfeit Super Bowl tickets also looked real.
But authentic Super Bowl tickets had security features that couldn't be duplicated, such as heat-sensitive ink on the back that would disappear if you touched it and then reappear, which the NFL described in a public-service announcement, Neudauer said.
In the run-up to the Super Bowl, undercover law enforcement teams also were on the hunt for counterfeit merchandise - both by sidewalk vendors and at businesses.
"These teams covertly went in and out of businesses from St. Cloud to Rochester" and confiscated 7,597 counterfeit items with an estimated value of about $520,000, Granger said.
The NFL issued the businesses cease and desist orders regarding selling counterfeit property.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service