Be­ware of phony tick­ets for the NBA All-Star Game in Char­lotte.

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY KATHERINE PER­ALTA kper­[email protected]­lot­teob­ Katherine Per­alta: 704-358-5079, @katieper­alta

Char­lotte is get­ting ready to host the big­gest sport­ing event in city his­tory, the NBA All-Star Game. While get­ting tick­ets to its pre­mier game is tough for any­one who is not well-con­nected in the NBA, there will be plenty of fraud­sters try­ing to sell tick­ets to fans des­per­ate to get into the event Feb. 17.

This in­cludes ev­ery­one from scalpers on the street ped­dling coun­ter­feit tick­ets to on­line ven­dors push­ing scam tick­ets. It’s some­thing the NBA sees ev­ery year dur­ing the All-Star Game, ac­cord­ing to Mike Potenza, the league’s vice pres­i­dent of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and as­sis­tant gen­eral coun­sel.

The NBA’s le­gal de­part­ment is work­ing with lo­cal law en­force­ment, the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and the N.C. sec­re­tary of state to iden­tify coun­ter­feit­ers, Potenza said.

One thing they of­ten see is scam­mers cre­at­ing fake web­sites with generic names like “Char­lotte All-Star,” with­out the NBA in the name, to try to sell fake tick­ets to the events, Potenza added.

“The con­se­quence of ... get­ting a coun­ter­feit ticket means fans un­for­tu­nately will be turned away at the door,” Potenza said.

Seat­ing is al­ready lim­ited at the 19,000-seat Spec­trum Cen­ter for the All-Star Game.

Just over one-third of the tick­ets to the game go to to the 30 teams, with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber go­ing to the Hor­nets, ac­cord­ing to the league. Spec­trum Cen­ter’s seat­ing ca­pac­ity is fur­ther re­duced by roughly 20 per­cent be­cause of the stag­ing the NBA is set­ting up, ac­cord­ing to Hor­nets Pres­i­dent Fred Whit­field.

The NBA does not sell tick­ets to the All-Star Game to the gen­eral pub­lic, which means that any that are on sale on a sec­ond­hand mar­ket came from NBA af­fil­i­ated in­di­vid­u­als, spon­sors or busi­nesses. Sales on the se­condary mar­ket take place on sites like Stub­hub —al­though the NBA doesn’t guar­an­tee the au­then­tic­ity of those tick­ets.

For the tick­ets to the All-Star Game that are on sale on Stub­hub now, the low­est price is $700, ac­cord­ing to Tick­etIQ , which tracks 90 per­cent of the coun­try’s se­condary ticket mar­ket. That’s the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive “get-in” price of any All-Star Game in the last decade, Tick­etIQ spokesman Jesse Lawrence said in an email.

The only of­fi­cial source sells tick­ets to the NBA All-Star Game and other events like the Celebrity Game is Quin­tEvents, a Char­lotte-based firm that han­dles VIP ticket bundling for ma­jor sport­ing events like the Kentucky Derby and the Su­per Bowl.

Quin­tEvents, which be­gan sell­ing NBA All-Star tick­ets in 2011, uses in­ven­tory of tick­ets pro­vided by the leagues them­selves. That’s how the com­pany can guar­an­tee the au­then­tic­ity of the tick­ets and the se­cu­rity of the trans­ac­tions. Quint Events bun­dles the tick­ets with other as­sets such as ho­tels, VIP ac­cess and on-the-ground travel, then sells the pack­ages for a pre­mium.

Quin­tEvents has a few hun­dred ticket pack­ages left in the lower bowl of the Spec­trum Cen­ter for the All-Star Game, CEO Brian Learst said.

The pack­ages range from $999 to about $3,700, Learst said. The ticket pack­ages are avail­able on­line and through Quin­tEvents’ hot­line: 866-619-3373.

“The eas­i­est way to de­ter­mine whether some­one is au­then­tic or not ... if you go di­rectly to NBA site, we’re the only com­pany linked di­rectly to them. If some­one says they’re le­git and they’re not linked, they’re not le­git,” Learst said.

“There are all kinds of ways to get ripped off.”

The Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau con­sulted with other NBA cities that have hosted the All-Star Game, in­clud­ing New Or­leans, to is­sue some guid­ance this week about how to avoid get­ting scammed. Some ad­vice in­cludes: Re­search­ing the seller/bro­ker, buy­ing only from trusted ven­dors, know­ing the re­fund pol­icy and us­ing pay­ment meth­ods that come with pro­tec­tion.

“For folks look­ing to buy out­side the event, the far­ther away from the event you are, the higher the risk (of get­ting scammed),” said Tom Bartholomy, CEO of the BBB of South­ern Pied­mont and West­ern North Carolina. “By the time you get your ticket and have it scanned, that (scam­mer) is long gone.”

Be­cause tick­ets to the All-Star Game and events Satur­day night (like the Dunk Con­test and 3-Point Con­test) are in such high de­mand, the NBA has worked to add events through­out the week and week­end to pro­vide fans ac­cess to their fa­vorite teams or play­ers.

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