Don’t Ignore “Can’t Use My Tickets” Posts On Your Social Media Page

I wrote a post that appeared on Artshacker today about ticket scams occurring in the comments section of performing arts organization social media accounts.

Essentially, what happens is that a short time out from an event, posts start appearing in the comments section of your organization’s Facebook page apparently from people who need to get rid of their tickets because they have a conflict with the date.

The biggest, most immediate tell-tale sign that this is a scam is realizing there are more tickets offered for re-sale than have been purchased. In the screenshots I posted as examples, the $5 movie we were offering only had 16 advance tickets sold but there were at least 54 tickets being offered for sale. This doesn’t count all the offers we deleted.

You also need to wonder about the promised heavy discounts people were offering on a $5 ticket that made it worth texting or sending a direct message to a stranger.

Another thing I see if I don’t catch the fake post in time is tickets being offered for free that suddenly have a price attached if someone responds with interest.

The answer, of course, is that most of these accounts were bots.  If you follow the link back to the poster’s account, you might find pictures of the person with family and friends which make it look legitimate (and I suspect some were real accounts that were hijacked) but others you notice some big inconsistencies like the fact their residence is in Sweden and they work for a company in Spain.

As I note in my Arts Hacker post, the simplest solution of shutting down commenting or requiring every comment to be approved can impede spontaneous reactions and conversations that create a sense of trust and community. Not to mention, it is difficult to conduct engagement campaigns if people are limited in their interactions.

Additionally, if people do get caught in a scam, it is likely to result in a negative association with, and perhaps distrust of, the organization on whose social media page the scam appeared.

If you knew you got a virus on a website or had your credit card number stolen on a gas pump skimming device, you would probably avoid returning, right?

One thing I didn’t mention in my original post but won’t probably come as a big surprise to many is that it is nigh-impossible to get the social media site to shut the scams down. We had a recent case where a person/bot posted their ticket offerings on their own page and tagged our page. I have to think this was a mistake and couldn’t have been effective because when we visited the page, there were more than 50 identical posts from a “woman” whose husband was deathly ill and couldn’t make dozens of monster truck rallies, concerts at bars, events at performing arts centers, many of them occurring at the same time across Canada and the United States.

We reported the page to Facebook. Even if it wasn’t a scam, a personal page was being used to conduct commerce. The response we got was that it didn’t violate any rules.

Anyway, check out the post on Arthacker, if nothing more than to see the screenshot examples of the type of posts you might encounter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same names popped up on your social media pages.

Scammers In Your Social Media Community

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.

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