Georgia ticket scalper Jeff Cook has been arrested for failing to deliver dozens of tickets to University of Georgia fans headed to South Bend, Indiana for today’s matchup with Notre Dame. Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills had been closely following Cook’s business after the complaints started coming in and told a local TV station that if Cook did not deliver the tickets or offer refunds, he would “throw his ass in jail.”
And that’s exactly what happened — Cook was arrested Friday for over-selling tickets to the game, likely engaging in a popular scalper tactic called “short-selling” or “speculative listing” wherein scalpers only procure tickets for events after customers have placed a paid order. Typically the price of a ticket on the market goes down as the event nears and scalpers profit off the difference from what they paid for the ticket, versus the price they sell it for. But for some popular events, the price never drops and scalpers take a loss on the ticket. Often, many scalpers will try to cancel the order in order to avoid taking the financial hit — one of the reasons consumer groups warn against buying from scalpers. The National Association of Ticket Brokers is supposed to police the secondary market, but are largely ineffective, convening once a year in Las Vegas to party and hit strip clubs.
Cook was arrested by Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies Friday morning and his house was raided by officers with a search warrant. Cook is charged with selling sports tickets without a license and advertising sports tickets for sale without posting a license number on his advertisements. He was released later on Friday after he posted bond of $2,000.
Cook, who runs a ticket site called AllSports, oversold his ticket allotment and began mailing out notices that fans weren’t getting their tickets. UGA fan Seth Welch told WXIA that he had purchased a ticket from Cook in May and was left scrambling for one of the most expensive football tickets of the season. Tickets were averaging $1,168 each.
“The late notice was really the worst part. I haven’t heard from the guy,” Welch said. “Word on the street is the Notre Dame fans that promised him tickets saw the Georgia fans were paying premiums for tickets and kind of held out, gave him his money back, and decided to sell them on their own on the market for a higher dollar amount.”
Cook told fans earlier this year they were supposed to receive their tickets in August, but kept pushing back the date. People were trying to desperately get in touch with Cook, but he would not answer his phone and his voicemail was full. Some fans, including Gary Wilbourn who ordered 19 tickets from Cook and only received two, drove to Cook’s home since his address is listed on the AllSports site and found a note taped to the front door.
After fans could not get in touch with Cook, they turned to the police, who began a criminal investigation.
“We are actively continuing our investigation of the undelivered UGA/Notre Dame tickets as we go through the evidence we seized at his home,” Sill told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate 11 Alive.
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