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Fans beware: Steelers warn against counterfeit tickets

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Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

In the world of NFL counterfeit tickets, only the Super Bowl is bigger than this weekend's AFC Championship game at Heinz Field, authorities said.

The Steelers, NFL and Pittsburgh police are warning fans to buy tickets for the game against the New York Jets from authorized dealers — such as NFL Ticket Exchange — or run the risk of losing hundreds of dollars. Gate workers confiscated counterfeit tickets at last week's game against the Baltimore Ravens, but Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said team policy prevented him from saying how many.

"We think our fans are the best fans in sports, and we want to protect them," Lockett said. "But they have to protect themselves."

About 40 fans were duped out of more than $6,000 when they bought fake tickets for the Steelers game against the New England Patriots in November, Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV reported.

PIttsburgh police, this month, arrested two people from Ohio for selling counterfeit tickets outside Heinz Field. No such arrests were made last year when the Steelers failed to make the playoffs.

"Keep in mind that counterfeiters come into town for big games," police spokeswoman Diane Richard said. "Typically, they don't waste their travel time on regular season games."

The quality of counterfeit tickets ranges from very sophisticated to ridiculously amateur, officials said.

"(Some) counterfeiters are pretty good with design," Lockett said. "It's difficult to tell with the naked eye."

The NFL is seeing more and more of the sophisticated variety, given advances in printers and other technology, said Anastasia Danias, the league's vice president of legal affairs.

"Certainly, it's a growing issue — especially around the Super Bowl," Danias said. "More fans are being scammed, and these are fans who are traveling far and wide."

The league encourages fans who are turned away because they have a counterfeit ticket to file a report with police, Danias said.

Between 100 and 200 reports are typically filed by fans duped at the Super Bowl, with about 125 reports last year in Miami, she said. But playoff games see plenty of counterfeits, too, said Danias, who could not immediately provide more specifics.

"And those are just the ones we know about," she said.

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