TAMPA — They came here from Atlanta, police said, to make money selling fake tickets to Saturday night's sold-out Buccaneers game.
And it almost worked for them and, surprisingly, even for some of the people who bought the counterfeit tickets.
Authorities arrested four men Saturday night at or nearby Raymond James Stadium in connection with the counterfeit ticket operation.
Three of the men — Albert Carlos Ford II, 30; Tony Denario Davis, 26; Oterious Lamar Wims, 26 — came from Atlanta, rented a white van and a white Chevrolet Tahoe, and sold "approximately 211 high-quality counterfeit tickets" to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Dallas Cowboys at an average of $100 each, Tampa police said.
A fourth man — Trevor M. Hendricks, 25 — was arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office after he bought fake tickets from the others, later realized they were not real and then tried to sell them to someone else, according to police.
After getting complaints from people who unwittingly bought the fake tickets, two Tampa police officers went undercover to pose as fans looking to get into the game.
Officers then arrested Ford and Davis at the stadium, according to jail records and an incident report. The men had 14 fake tickets between them.
Police then found Wims nearby in one of the rental vehicles with four more counterfeit tickets.
Hendricks of St. Augustine was trying to re-sell four fake tickets he bought from the men, police said.
The Buccaneers ticket office recovered 184 counterfeit tickets, according to the report, and many people were turned away from the game.
Some people actually got into the stadium with the fake tickets, however, because the ticket-takers at Gate A didn't scan the tickets as is the usual process, according to police — they just tore the stubs.
The four men each face a charge of possessing or selling a counterfeit private label. Each was released from jail on $500 bail, jail records show.
• • •
On most weekends this season at Raymond James Stadium, a counterfeit ticket operation would be a nonstarter. Tickets, most of which cost from $35 to $99, are usually readily available.
Saturday's prime-time contest, though, was declared sold out, with a paid attendance of 65,162 boosted in part by droves of Cowboys fans who saw their team thrash the Bucs, 31-15.
This was not the first time police nabbed a group of men from other states on charges of selling fake Bucs tickets.
In 2002, police arrested five men from Philadelphia and one from Georgia who authorities said sold counterfeit tickets to a Monday Night Football game against the St. Louis Rams. In 1997, three men from New York City and one man from Orlando were arrested after selling fake tickets to a game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or email@example.com.