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World Series: Tampa Bay Rays, Phillies fans should watch for scammers

ST. PETERSBURG — Imagine walking up to Tropicana Field to see the World Series only to find out you can't get in because the bar codes on your tickets have already been used.

Imagine finding a great parking place for $20 only to discover later that your car has been towed because the people who charged you really didn't own the lot.

These are some of the scams that have victimized people during the playoffs and World Series in St. Petersburg.

"Scamming does take place anywhere there are large crowds of people and there's a high amount of interest in the event," said George Kajtsa of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

On the night of the Rays' first World Series game Wednesday, Mike Gary Jr. and his father, Mike Gary Sr., stood outside Gate 4 of the Trop trying to find a way in after paying $400 for a set of fraudulent tickets.

"I'm out 400 bucks. I'm crying. I scraped that money to take my dad to the Rays game for the World Series" as a birthday present, said Gary Jr. of Safety Harbor. His father, 69, is from Brooksville.

Gary said he bought the tickets from two men at Ferg's sports bar before the game. But ticket takers said tickets had already been scanned.

Police spokesman Bill Proffitt said he has heard of about four ticket-counterfeiting cases during the playoffs and World Series. It can be hard to detect fake tickets because many legitimate ones are printed using home computers.

Plenty of people have been scammed by those who charge fans money to park in a lot near the Trop — and then quickly disappear. In some of those lots, the real property owners want cars towed, said Philip Decelles, a manager at A-1 Recovery, which handles some of those towing jobs.

Decelles said he knows of a case in which tenants of a duplex charged people to park on the front yard without permission. In another case, people guided drivers into an alley and directed them to park on other people's property.

In other cases, people replace signs in business lots that say "Tow-Away-Zone" with cardboard ones that say "Park Here."

"There's a lot of scams going on," Decelles said.

Proffitt said police gave notices to nine people Wednesday who were selling unlicensed baseball T-shirts and other merchandise around the Trop. And one man had his wallet pickpocketed during Wednesday's game.

Times staff writer Stephanie Garry contributed to this report.

World Series: Tampa Bay Rays, Phillies fans should watch for scammers 10/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 24, 2008 7:25am]
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