Hamilton is so popular that a slew of fake tickets abound on sites such as craigslist, fooling consumers and even celebrities such as Michael Kay.
New Batch of Fake Broadway Tickets Hits Craigslist
It’s happened before, and it’s happening again. Fake Broadway tickets are hitting the market in a big way. This time, they are not just hitting your average consumer; they are also hitting celebrities. There are only three reliable ways of getting real tickets to Hamilton. The first is at Ticketmaster, the second at the Box Office of the Richard Rodgers Theatre and the third is at Stubhub, where they guarantee tickets are genuine (although they have had there own smaller problem with fake tickets, but at least you get your money back)
Michael Kay Buys Fake "Hamilton" Tickets
On February 17, 2016, Michael Kay, the Yankees sports announcer and the star of The Michael Kay Show, somewhat sheepishly announced on his daily podcast and radio show that he, too, had fallen prey to the craigslist Broadway ticket seller who is flooding the market with fake Hamilton tickets. To make matters worse, Kay spent $5,000 on the tickets, and then he took his wife on Valentine’s Day, only to be turned away at the door because the tickets were fake. Kay's wife, Jodi Applegate, was none too impressed that her husband would be taken for a fool. When she discovered that he had paid an insane price for the tickets and exchanged the money in cash, in person, she saw Kay in a whole new light. Reportedly, Kay tried to get into the show anyway, but every seat at that show is sold out well in advance, and the theatre staff at Richard Rodgers Theatre were not able to help in any way. Applegate is a renowned journalist, and this affair brings into question both her, and her husband’s, professionalism. She has served as an anchorwoman at local stations, as well as nationally for MSNBC and NBC News. Kay admitted that he had met the scammer on craigslist, and that “he seemed like a nice guy, even counted the money in front of me.” Kay will not go hungry, as he reportedly earns $2.5 million announcing the Yankees games and from his radio shows, but it was expected that he did have to sleep on the sofa for at least one night.
Fake Tickets at "Hamilton" Are Seen Every Night of the Week
At the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the ushers apparently encounter fake Hamilton tickets almost every night of the week, usually printed on high quality card stock. This is highly unusual for Broadway, where most shows are less crime-riddled with ticket scams; this is testament to the immense demand for Hamilton. The fake tickets are often very difficult to tell apart from real tickets, until you try to scan them at the theatre. In one reported case, the date on the ticket was a year in the past, even before Hamilton was running. The buyer, however, was unsuspecting until the seller left and he read the tickets closely, as the tickets were handed over in a Ticketmaster printed envelope. The Richard Rodgers Theatre, which is owned by the Nederlander Organization, does not offer much help with the situation, as they will not let ticket holders "check" that their tickets are real before the show. Craigslist also offers no recourse for scam deals made through their site. Under these circumstances, the line to get into the show can often turn into a game of Russian Roulette, with crying spouses standing off to the side in the “line of shame.” In many cases, the tickets may actually be real tickets, but copied multiple times, which means whomever gets to the theatre first gets in; all the other copies, possibly including the original tickets, will be left out in the cold. In some cases, the staff at the theatre actually go into the theatre, pull out the copy ticket and put in the "original" ticketholders. In other cases, there have been multiple "original" ticket holders, as another scam involves printing out official replacement tickets for tickets that have been "lost," when that was clearly not the case.
Police Have Little Interest Investigating Broadway Ticket Scams
The NYPD sees Broadway ticket scams as victim-less crimes, and have little interest in logging these thefts as this will make the NYC crime figures go up. Most Broadway show ticket scams are not reported or even logged by officers. This past October, the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, felt the need to post on his own twitter account warning of Craigslist scams. The fact that it is necessary for an artist to get involved demonstrates how little crime enforcement personnel care to investigate the issue. There are instances when ticket scams are prosecuted, such as one instance in July 2014, when six men were charged with running an international identify theft program through hacking the profiles of StubHub users. However, though this crime is related to second-hand ticket purchases, it was looked into by the authorities because it also entered the realm of identity theft, which is considered a more serious issue. As for getting vengeance for having been conned by fake ticket sellers on third-party sites such as craigslist, buyers generally have no recourse but to turn the other way. Fortunately, there are other ways to get into the show, if hard to achieve, such as the lottery which offers 21 front-row tickets for $10 at every performance. Beyond this, consumers can just wait until demand quiets down, in a decade or two.