When it comes to buying last-minute tickets to see Taylor Swift at SoFi Stadium, don’t be the foolish one.

Sometimes there are great deals to be had for buyers in the right place at the right time. But there are far more scammers looking for overeager fans than legitimate sellers willing to unload tickets at below the going rate.

If money is no object, you can find tickets for any of the remaining sold-out shows in Inglewood through legitimate ticket brokers and resellers online, like StubHub, Vivid Seats and SeatGeek. These platforms offer money-back guarantees if your ticket turns out to not be valid (StubHub even pledges to try to get you in the door anyway and into a real seat). On Monday, for example, the least-expensive ones at StubHub.com were $843, and that was for seats in the upper deck or behind the stage.

And resale prices may come down more, if history is any guide. The New York Post reported that ticket reseller Vivid Seats saw prices for Eras Tour tickets in five other cities drop 50% at the last minute — although that’s 50% off the considerably higher resale price, not the original.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal for ticketless Swifties, which is why you’ll find plenty of anecdotes online about tickets released at the last minute for sale at or below face value, or unloaded on the cheap by a desperate seller. And there are some groups out there dedicated to helping Swifties obtain tickets at face value or less — see, for example, @ErasTourResell on the social network formerly known as Twitter.

Before leaping at an offer that seems to fulfill your wildest dreams, however, consider the advice from experts on how to avoid being sold a worthless fake.

The most common piece of advice: Don’t buy a ticket directly from an individual whom you don’t know. It’s far safer to buy from a reseller such as StubHub, which offers protection against scammy sellers. But that protection comes at a premium price.

Simply buying through a third-party platform like a Facebook group or Craigslist isn’t enough, because the safeguards offered buyers vary from site to site. (And some, like Craigslist, don’t offer any because they’re simply advertising platforms, not ticket exchanges.) Worse, some scammers create fraudulent resale platforms to pull off their cons.

Never trust a link to a site sent via text, email or social media; not only might the link take you to a webpage loaded with malware, it could also send you to an expertly crafted knockoff designed to look just like a well-known reseller’s site.

As the U.S. Public Interest Research Group notes in its guide to avoiding ticket scams, “A scammer can, for example, create a website with the URL: TlCKETMASTER.COM Did you notice that URL contains a lower-case L and not an I? Betcha didn’t.”

If you’re willing to risk buying directly from a stranger, Step 1 is to make sure the ticket you’re buying is a valid Ticketmaster digital ticket, which is the only type of ticket that will grant you entry into SoFi. Ticketmaster’s website, however, offers no help on this front; it says flatly, “We can’t verify tickets bought from a third party.”

What you can do is make sure the seller is offering you a ticket directly from a Ticketmaster account. That’s where all legitimate tickets reside, even the ones bought from resellers.

Sadly, many scammers know that too, and either offer a legitimate ticket that they don’t deliver or show a bogus Ticketmaster account page with a fake ticket or a screenshot of a real ticket.

Here’s an example from the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracking site, which is filled with stories from people who paid for Taylor Swift tickets but never received them. A person reported seeing an offer of four SoFi tickets for $600 on a Facebook group called “Waitlisted For The Taylor Swift — The Eras Tour Presale.”

“I messaged her, and she showed what I thought was verifiable proof, a screen recording, of her Ticketmaster account with her name and the tickets,” the victim wrote. “After sending her the money for the tickets she wouldn’t transfer them to me, like she said she would, and also stopped responding to my Facebook messages.”

So you’re going to need to turn up your skepticism dial and look out for common scammer techniques, including:

  • Offering prices well below market. Granted, that’s what you’re looking for here, but it does set you up to be taken.
  • Seeking to be paid in a way that doesn’t allow you to force a refund, such as Zelle, Cash App, or a PayPal “friends and family” payment. And if the seller wants to be paid in gift cards, that’s the reddest of red flags.
  • Pressing for a quick decision. Scammers use a heightened sense of urgency to blow past your defenses.
  • Selling from an account that is brand new or curiously free of reviews.

If you’re buying a ticket from someone in your community, do the transaction in person so that you can make sure the transfer happens, said Kevin Roundy, senior technical director at Norton. But the usual safety rules for in-person sales apply: pick a well-lit place filled with people, and don’t bring cash.

If possible, pay with a credit card (not a debit card) because you’ll be able to get a refund if you’re defrauded. That’s not practical when buying from an individual, though, so in those cases, insist on a payment platform that offers “purchase protection” as an option, such as Venmo, PayPal and Facebook Marketplace, and then be sure the transaction is covered by it.

When looking at sellers on Facebook, remember that people will hack a Facebook account and use it specifically for the purpose of ripping off Swifties, Roundy said. He added, “If you’re a hacker and you wanted to monetize a hacked Facebook account right now, I couldn’t think of a better way.”

Another tip from PIRG: When buying a ticket, check the section and seat number on it to make sure it actually exists.

Remember, you can’t buy a printed ticket for Swift’s Eras Tour. All transfers have to be done through Ticketmaster’s app or website. So if someone offers to sell you a paper ticket, walk away.

Finally, announcing on social media that you’re looking for tickets will make you a magnet for scammers.

Longtime Taylor Swift fan Krista Smith illustrates this point, and a few other pitfalls faced her fellow Swifties. A native of Vancouver, Smith figured that while she was in Southern California for summer vacation, she might try to get last-minute tickets to the Eras Tour at SoFi. She watched ticket prices drop during the opening acts of Swift’s first concert here Thursday, sinking under her budget of $300. So she and a friend made plans Friday to head to the stadium, starting by posting in a few Swiftie Facebook groups that she was looking for day-of tickets.

“The first three people that messaged me were very obvious scammers,” Smith, 28, said. She said all three sent similar messages, all mentioning that they were desperate to get rid of their tickets — the first red flag.

“At this rate, no one is desperate,” she said. Other “sketchy” signs included asking for payments over PayPal as “friends and family,” instead of through the goods and services feature, which provides purchase protection.

She was still hopeful they could snag tickets through an online, verified resale vendor, such as Vivid Seats or Stubhub, but even as the opening acts continued, prices didn’t fall — and seats were going fast.

“We would refresh pretty often, and as we were putting tickets in our cart, they’re selling,” she said. “We’re all dressed up, we’re ready to go inside. … It was desperate.”

At that point, Smith secured two tickets for about $1,400 — “Our budget kind of expanded when we got to the stadium,” she laughed — but they weren’t downloaded instantly and the seller wasn’t responding. Time kept ticking by. Swift took the stage, and Smith and her friend were still stuck waiting.

Vivid Seats eventually refunded them for the tickets, and the friends listened outside for a while, traded some friendship bracelets and bought some merch.

“It’s ok,” said Smith, who has seen multiple Swift shows on previous tours before her sojourn in L.A. “I’ll watch the livestreams and get my fix that way.”

Times staff writer Emma Fox contributed to this report.

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