Officers late last week arrested a man on suspicion of trying to sell forged tickets to the hit musical. An official at The Paramount said there have been at least eight victims so far, and police hope more will come forward.
Last week, Seattle police officers arrested a man in a grocery-store parking lot on suspicion of selling forged tickets to “Hamilton,” the smash-hit, hip-hop-influenced musical now playing at The Paramount Theatre, according to police and a theater executive.
“Hamilton” began its previews on Feb. 6. Josh LaBelle, executive director of Seattle Theatre Group (STG), which runs The Paramount, said at least eight people so far have shown up at the Paramount’s doors with forged tickets.
“We first flagged bogus tickets on Tuesday,” LaBelle said, “and commend Seattle police for reacting so fast.”
The suspect, according to the Seattle police blog, The Blotter, had reportedly stolen actual ticket stock during a burglary at “a University District music venue.” LaBelle said The Neptune, another STG theater, had been burglarized and ticket stock was stolen — he suspects that same stock was used in the forgery.
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According to The Blotter, “detectives served a warrant on the man’s house and recovered the remaining ticket paper and a laptop used to print the forged tickets.”
Officers are looking for other potential victims and urge anyone else who might have bought tickets from the man — for “Hamilton” or other events — to contact detectives online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Police describe the suspect as a bald white male in his late 40s who posted resale tickets on Craigslist and other secondary-market sites, and typically met his victims in person.
LaBelle urges people to use caution whenever buying secondary-market tickets and to never use cash.
Some actions on the secondary market are criminal (selling forged tickets, for example) while others are legal.
Ticketmaster, STG’s ticketing partner, has its own legal secondary market, with some ”Hamilton” tickets going for as much as $10,000 — though those prices will fluctuate, LaBelle said, since people selling their tickets back to Ticketmaster can set their own prices, then reset them if they go unsold.
Though Ticketmaster’s secondary-sale market can seem exorbitant, LaBelle said, at least those are guaranteed real tickets and not forgeries.
“I hate the secondary market,” LaBelle added. “I wish it was illegal in our state … I don’t think it’s feasible, but we can do a better job of making it safer and reducing fraud.”
State lawmakers have been trying to curb the excesses of the secondary market, specifically by targeting “ticketing bots,” computerized systems that scrape the web to quickly snatch up tickets. Last week, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that two ticket-bot companies, owned by Taylor Kurth, would be fined $60,000 for using bot software to buy and resell tickets in violation of an anti-ticket-bot law passed by the state Legislature in 2015.
“I’m a rock ’n’ roll musician,” LaBelle said. “That’s where I come from. The lifeblood of this entire industry is in the fans. And if we can’t take good care of them so they can come back time and time again, we’re not doing our job.”