Former Manhattan prosecutors specializing in criminal defense and civil rights in state and federal courts.

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Arrests for Selling Fake Tickets and Ticket Scalping

Posted By Galluzzo & Arnone || 3-Feb-2014

Arrests for Selling Fake Tickets and Ticket Scalping:

(Credit: Laura Monagle)

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, the problem of ticket scamming has been heavily reported in the media. It was reported this week that two men were caught selling fake Super Bowl tickets to fans for thousands of dollars.

http://nypost.com/2014/01/28/cops-bust-super-bowl-ticket-scammers/

While the internet has created a market for the selling of second hand tickets, individuals caught selling phony tickets face criminal prosecution. New York Penal Law ('NYPL') §170 sets out the offences relating to forged items.

Counterfeit Super Bowl tickets would come under the 170.00 (1) definition of a 'written instrument': any written instrument or article, including computer data or a computer program, containing written or printed matter or the equivalent thereof, used for the purpose of reciting, embodying, conveying or recording information, or constituting a symbol or evidence of value, right, privilege or identification, which is capable of being used to the advantage or disadvantage of some person; or the sub-section (2) definition of a 'complete written instrument': one which purports to be a genuine written instrument fully drawn with respect to every essential feature thereof. Sub-section (7) defines a 'forged instrument' as: a written instrument which has been falsely made, completed or altered.

The two men arrested in this week's Super Bowl ticket bust face multiple charges, including forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

NYPL sets out the offenses relating to forgery in § 170.05 (forgery in the third degree) and § 170.10(1) (forgery in the second degree) which would be relevant to the making of counterfeit tickets. Forgery in the third degree relates to making/altering a written instrument with the intent to deceive or defraud. Forgery in the second degree relates to the same act, with respect to a commercial instrument (that is, a ticket to an event). It is likely that with regards to the Super Bowl tickets in this case, and in any similar case, that an individual would be charged in the second degree, as the penalty is higher. Forgery in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone charged under this section faces one year imprisonment. Forgery in the second degree is a class D felony, and anyone charged under this section faces seven years imprisonment.

Individuals who are found with fake tickets on their person face charges relating to criminal possession of a forged instrument. NYPL § 170.20 (criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree) and § 170.25 (criminal possession in the second degree) are the relevant provisions. If an individual has been charged with forgery in the second degree, it is likely that they will also be charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, which also requires that the instrument be a commercial instrument. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone charged under this section faces one year imprisonment. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree is a class D felony, and anyone charged under this section faces seven years imprisonment.

The two men arrested this week, who sold individual Super Bowl tickets for $1,500 each, could face charges of grand larceny in the fourth degree, under § 155.30 (1): stealing property (money), the value of which exceeds one thousand dollars. NYPL § 155.05(2)(a) allows for larceny by way of trick (fake tickets). Grand larceny in the fourth degree is a class E felony, and anyone charged under this section faces four years. Attempted grand larceny (under § 110.00, an 'attempt' is engaging in conduct with intent to commit a crime which tends to effect the commission of the crime) is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone charged under this section faces one year imprisonment.

Sale of counterfeit tickets could also result in charges of fraudulent accosting, under NYPL § 165.30. Sub-section (1) states that a person is guilty of fraudulent accosting when he accosts a person in a public place with intent to defraud them or money or other property by means of a trick, swindle or confidence game. This sub-section clearly only relates to ticket scalping in a public place. Fake tickets would seem to be sufficient to constitute a trick or swindle. Fraudulent accosting is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone charged under this section faces one year imprisonment.

In addition to the above charges, individuals who are caught ticket scalping could face charges under the Arts and Culture Affairs Law ('ACA Law'). ACA Law § 25.09 states that any person who is in violation of §25.13 (sale of tickets without a license) will be guilty of ticket speculation. Ticket speculation is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone charged under this section faces one year imprisonment.

Given the heavy penalties associated with these offenses, individuals charged with any of the above offenses should contact an experienced attorney to handle their case.