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Counterfeit tickets abound; one arrested

Mary Kate Malone | Monday, September 11, 2006

Undercover police arrested a man selling counterfeit football tickets on the perimeter of campus Saturday – the result of the University’s initiative to crack down on individuals scamming and scalping Notre Dame tickets.

More than 100 fake tickets were circulating campus before kickoff, said Notre Dame Director of Ticket Operations Josh Berlo.

An undercover detail comprised of officials from Notre Dame Security/Police, South Bend police department and the ticket office worked collaboratively to address counterfeit ticket sales on gameday, Berlo said. They will continue to do so for the six remaining home football games.

“We anticipated there would be counterfeits due to demand, so last fall we started doing some research and putting the tools in place to attempt to stop counterfeits,” Berlo said.

The man was arrested along the southeast perimeter of the University, within NDSP jurisdiction. Police also questioned two other individuals, but Berlo did not disclose what was discussed or the outcome of those conversations. However, law enforcement officials have “definite information on other suspects,” as well, Berlo said. He declined to provide information on the suspects, since the investigation is ongoing.

The number of counterfeit tickets was not surprising given the high demand for tickets, Berlo said. Notre Dame’s tickets are some of the most secure in the world, he said, with seven separate security features in each one.

“We use the same ticket printer that has ticketed the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the [NCAA] Final Four [basketball games], and political conventions,” Berlo said, noting that the University meets with its printing company annually to work on making tickets secure.

All stadium ushers have been trained to spot counterfeit tickets. It’s common that fans who buy their tickets from non-University sources will not know they have a counterfeit, Berlo said. When they are not admitted into the game, Berlo’s office works with those fans to “get as much information as we can” about the person who sold them the fake ticket.

But ushers can’t catch every inauthentic ticket. Of the few hundred counterfeits circulating on Saturday, not all were spotted, causing confusion when more than one person was assigned to a seat.

“The usher has a procedure to decide which party should be escorted to the ticket office [in that case],” Berlo said.

Both buyers and sellers should beware this weekend, Berlo said, since the undercover force will be out again for the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game.

To make sure their ticket is authentic, fans should look for a three-dimensional silver hologram with a pin wheel inside.

“If you don’t see that, it’s probably not a valid ticket,” Berlo said.