For Immediate Release - September 22, 2015

AG Healey Advises People to be Aware of Scams Related to the Pope's Visit

BOSTON – In light of Pope Francis’ visit this week to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia, Attorney General Maura Healey is warning people looking to visit these cities to be aware of potential scams surrounding the popular Papal events.

The public should beware of counterfeit ticket sales and transportation scams that may take advantage of consumers trying to plan a trip to see the Pope.

“Scam artists are eager to capitalize on high-profile events such as this one in order to illegally profit off people,” AG Healey said. “People should make sure that they are working with legitimate businesses and ticket holders before booking trips so they don’t end up on the losing end of a deal.”

One alleged scam involved a bus company that took thousands of dollars in deposits from local church groups planning their visit, but later found that the company was no longer in business and could not be contacted to provide a refund.

The Archdiocese provides a limited amount of free tickets to Papal events through a lottery system. The AG’s Office cautions that scalpers try to resell these tickets for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on secondary sites such as Craigslist and eBay, and that many of the tickets offered for sale are likely fraudulent. While purchasing tickets on a secondary market is not illegal, consumers may find it hard to verify whether tickets they purchase are authentic. 

The AG’s Office advises consumers in Massachusetts to follow these tips to avoid fake tickets and other scams:

Tickets

  • If you are looking to obtain tickets, get them from verified sources connected to the Papal events and not secondary sites such as eBay and Craigslist.
  • Always investigate the validity of the ticket source if you're unsure whether a sale is legitimate.
  • Don’t wire transfer any money or payment.
  • Walk away from high-pressure sales tactics.
  • If buying tickets online, be sure to use a credit card or PayPal account so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges.
  • Be cautious of ticket scalpers on the street claiming to have tickets for sale with exorbitant prices.

Transportation

  • Be smart shoppers and research the best deals from a reputable source.
  • Read the fine print: Take the time to read any contract. Consumers should not sign the contract unless they fully understand it.
  • Get any promises or guarantees in writing. Keep a complete and signed copy of any contract you sign.
  • Ask for references—names of satisfied customers who can talk about the business.
  • Ask a neighbor, friend or co-worker for the name of a transportation company they have used in the past, and how much they paid.
  • Be wary of sales representatives that demand full payment up front and ask for your financial information before providing details about the total cost of the trip.

The AG’s Office fields thousands of consumer complaints annually and provides voluntary mediation services to resolve disputes with businesses. Consumers looking to report a scam or have concerns are encouraged to call the AG’s consumer hotline at 617-727-8400 or file a complaint on the AG’s website.

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