Known Ticket Scams

Yeah, it’s like that.

Now that there’s a scarcity-based market for Burning Man tickets, the scammers are coming out of the woodwork. Be aware, be wary, get educated, and don’t get screwed. We’re hearing about these from a lot of people who are about to get nailed, so we thought we’d let you know about them.

Do NOT Wire Money

A lot of the known scams right now involve payments requested to “Ticketmaster Fan-protect exchange program”, which requires wiring money through Western Union to the UK. Moneygram/Western Union actually allows the seller to pick up the money without having sent anything first, no matter what they say in their fine print. REFUSE TO PAY FOR TICKETS THROUGH WESTERN UNION OR MONEYGRAM … PERIOD.

Also, some are using a payment method called “Green Dot” and they’re routed through someone who isn’t the original owner of the ticket. If you’re buying a ticket from somebody who isn’t the original owner of the ticket, be especially careful.

Impersonating Real Tickets

There are also people getting ticket photos off of eBay, then gleaning ticket numbers through other means, and selling tickets they don’t have in their possession.

Always check the ticket number with us BEFORE you buy, by emailing us at [UPDATE: Please note that we no longer verify ticket numbers because we cannot actually validate tickets in the hands of a third party.] None of these scammers will accept Paypal as a payment … never buy a ticket online unless you can do it through Paypal, which is the only way you can have possible recourse if you get scammed.

Counterfeits in LA, San Diego and Santa Barbara

There’s a guy selling counterfeit tickets in the LA area … the name on the tickets he’s selling is Cory O’Brien. THIS IS NOT THE NAME OF THE GUY DOING THE COUNTERFEITING … JUST THE NAME ON THE TICKETS. At least one of the people selling this ticket is going by the name “Ruben”. The ticket number is 03703 TWVTO53W … if you get offered these tickets, don’t buy them, call the cops. Learn how to spot a counterfeit ticket, and ideally bring a REAL ticket with you to compare them before you buy. If you encounter somebody selling counterfeit tickets, get all the information you can and CALL THE POLICE.








Counterfeit Tickets from SF & Reno (click to enlarge)

Counterfeits in San Francisco and Reno

There’s a guy in San Francisco selling counterfeit tickets, and now those same tickets are being sold in Reno as well. Learn how to spot a counterfeit ticket, and ideally bring a REAL ticket with you to compare them before you buy.  The ticket numbers are JL853RJX 13682 and JL853RJX 13681. If you encounter somebody selling counterfeit tickets, get all the information you can and CALL THE POLICE.

More info about how to buy/sell more safely can be found on our ticket page.

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He's the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Voices of Burning Man blog, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversees the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

46 thoughts on “Known Ticket Scams

  • If you plan on reselling your ticket, do not put a pic of the bar code in your ebay listing. Tickets can be counterfited that way and if someone else sells a ticket that is a copy of yours, it is possible that person will get in with the counterfit ticket and you will be left out or the person you sell it to will be out. The little hand held ticket machines at the gate will not scan a ticket more than once.

    If you buy a ticket from ebay, check their selling history. If they have very little feedback comments or none, I would not buy tickets from that person. Especially a new account. Contact them by telephone and speak with them. If they won’t give you a telephone number I wouldn’t buy from them. If you did buy from someone on ebay, you can request the sellers personal information through ebay. You won’t get their street address but you will get the town and telephone number associate with that sellers account. ALWAYS USE PAYPAL!! If you get scammed you will have some recourse through the paypal website and may be able to recoup your money.

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  • Good stuff but there are many alternatives to PayPal (even on eBay!) and buyer protection is a common feature. Do your research, is the important thing, use your mind powers. Trust no one.

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  • My very first year, newbie and such, I got scammed for a ticket. I paid with PayPal. Never was able to get my money back because they emptied the account it was linked with and closed it out. Just be aware scammers can use all tools at their disposal!

    Good luck and hopefully see you out on the Playa!


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    FYI, I am charging 251.25 for my 240.00 ticket because that’s what BM charged me. I will also add approx $8.00 more if you pay me through paypal because that’s what they charge me. Not to be picky, but I’m not trying to make a profit, just trying to pay for all the great stuff I got this year for BM. (I’m still going.)

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  • I am distraught about our missing tickets. We have been told they can’t be reissued. We have our confirmation number. Look I just read the fear mongering about the scammers and BEWARE of scalped tickets. I really want to go again this year. This is the first year ever that tickets have sold out. I really don’t want to miss it. PLEASE HELP!.. What can we do to get in? I’m so sad.

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  • Badmargo, scalpers are not scammers. They are not scamming you because they are not commiting fraud or lying to you. We all know what a ticket sells for at face value and regardless of that price printed on the ticket, the ticket has a value sometimes greater than the one printed on it. Scalpers are only taking a ticket that they bought legally and are reselling for a profit. That’s no different that what any other business out there does, ie walmart, at&t, microsoft and lets face it that is what the organizers of B’man does. They have a product spent X amount of dollars on it and now have marked it up so they can make a profit. That’s business.

    A scapler wants your business and hopes that they can get return business. A scammer doesn’t care about anything other than getting your money and stiffing you on the merchandise. Now it may be unethical in the Burning Man community but it’s not illeagal.

    Point being, be carefull. If you buy 2nd hand tickets, make sure you protect yourself. I would only use a method, such as paypal, to make that purchase and make sure that your account is set up with a credit card. You will have 2 avenues of recourse, Paypal and the credit card company. I have bought many tickets for my local sports teams and a few concerts off of ebay. I never once had a problem and I use ebay about 5-6 times a year and once for Super Bowl when my Saints went. Yeah you’ll pucker up when you’re sepending 4,0000.00 for Super Bowl tickets and pray you get into the game legitimately, but when you do, it makes you feel good that you had the oportunity to attend whatever event you’re going to and have a place to get the tickets you wanted.

    So don’t knock somebody who may sell a measly 2 ticketsfor a profit. Cause let’s face it, buyer’s are limited to 2 per household. Somebody can’t go and probably is due to money. Money may be tight in their house, they can make some money and help themselves a little and help someone else go to an event they would outherwise be left out.

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  • Badmargo: I agree with you about people who try to sell their tickets for more than face value. They mos def do not belong in the BM community. If you are still looking to get rid of your ticket, I’m interested in purchasing it. Where are you located?

    @Chris Kuhn: Bottom line, this event is about the community and people. Not to make money off of. True burners would NEVER sell for profit- even if they are hard on cash. I understand where you’re coming from…superbowl, world series, etc. Those events are expected to have scalpers and people trying to make money- because those sports are about the money. You can’t compare the experience of Burning man and the world of sports. They’re completely different! Plus, if you read the BM site, it tells you to sell your tickets at face value- not for profit.

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  • Well, I need a ticket. Willing to pay face value. Any helper will be showered with gifts on the playa.. (nothing sexual intended)… For my beautiful girlfriend… xx

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  • Holy Burning man! I agree with Chris Kuhn…the rest of you are borderline nutz. DO people sell water on the playa at face value? do they sell drugs at face value? so on and so on. If your a sucker and dont plan ahead, you pay the price.

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  • I’m kinda agreeing with Chris K….and this is why… It is my understanding that Mr Harvey withheld 10,000 tickets and allowed them to be sold through one of the big ticket sales venues, (like Ticket Master) that business is selling them for face value PLUS over $800.00 in handeling fees….Wow! that is some very spendy handeling, maybe thay have each been blessed by the Holy of Holies or something! I’m kinda thinking that if the BM Organization itself is not protecting the BRC inhabitants from this then they are in effect promoting profitering …you know the law of gravity…everything rolls down hill even playa dust :)

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  • @RnoRenee: You are insane: the BORG has not done this.

    However, you probably bought a pair of tickets $800 per person “VIP Level” that include happy hour with Larry Harvey on Thursday, a personal porta potty, and use of a 400 horsepower “art car”/dragster.

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  • It is true that scalpers are not necessarily scammers. In previous years, scalpers probably WERE scamming at least at some level, because the event hadn’t sold out and anyone trying to sell a ticket for more than face value was essentially trying to convince someone to pay MORE than market price for a ticket, as the market price was still the max ticket price BMorg was selling them for. I saw many craigslist postings trying last year trying to get people to pay “$350 – the cheapest price you will be able to buy a ticket at” while there were still $320 tickets available at Sports Basement. This year, its different. A scalper is trying to establish the true market value of the ticket which is now a rarity (like Super Bowl tickets and Paul McCartney concert tickets). I really doubt that the BMorg actually scalped tickets themselves (I had not heard about this) but I agree that BMorg is somewhat disingenuous when they urge people to only pay “ticket price” while they clearly set prices so that they can do better than break even. However, to be fair, there isn’t anyone (not even Larry H) at BMorg who is turning into the next Rupert Murdoch. As far as I can tell, no one is doing Burning Man for the money… except for a couple of people who are charging $20,000 a ticket (yup, this is TRUE) for a Burning Man “cruise”, a “VIP” all-expenses paid vacation to the playa with luxiry accomodations, five-star cuisine, personal-use mutant vehicles and private entertainment. I know this because last year they camped in our village (and will again this year, sigh, despite many objections). The people who come are rich cats who don’t want to get “dirty” at Burning Man, but want to see what its about. Pure spectator sport. Totally idiotic, but if someone is willing to pay for it, who are we to say no? I only wish I’d thought of it FIRST! LOL!

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  • Hey folks-
    The one method that we are being pointed to in order to validate purchased tickets ( just sent me this message A WEEK AND A HALF BEFORE THE EVENT. How are we supposed to check these tickets now??? This is exactly the timing when good folks may find they have an emergency and need to sell their tickets!

    “Howdy Burners,

    This response is a redirect from our gmail account, rest assured this
    is coming from

    We are officially off to the desert now and out of the office until
    September 12th. Please be aware that we may not be able to respond to
    your email.”

    Someone needs to be staffing this!

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  • Still not seeing a reply or another post. Either take down your articles that say to “go ahead and acquire tickets and contact (such as this article) or please have someone respond to our ticket validation requests. We now have NO WAY to insure they are not frauds, yet all your articles say we can simply contact you at this address.

    I am in limbo now. I told someone I would buy their ticket and now I have no way to verify it.

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  • Hey Badmargo and others:
    Just FYI, most of the scammers I’ve run into were, sadly, the ones offering to sell at face value; the offensively priced ones were the real ones. I’m sure everyone has had a myriad of experiences dealing with scammers and fake tickets, but I just thought I’d share that tidbit.
    Good luck finding tickets everyone!

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  • @Greg: Our ticket folks are indeed on the playa … and they’re still helping with verifying ticket numbers, but as they’re on the surface of the moon now, the turn-around time is unfortunately longer.

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  • ok, i couldnt help but respond. I am one you refer to as scum sucking scab eating
    SCALPER. and yes as Chris Kuhn states, we are not the scammers. We invested thousands of dollars buying tickets as we have every year for the past nine years. We buy from BMOG as well as from fans, artists contractors etc. We have allways in the past sold BELOW what the current box office price was. Where were you “community” people then offering to pay more than we asked ? pay the community price as that is what is fair. No! not until this year when all the procrastinators got caught with there pants down and want to blame anyone but themselves for the sitution they are in. Its your fault for not buying when Jack Rabbit warned it would sell out. BUt you have alway bought BELOW face before and expected you would be able to do the same this year. OPPS!

    OK , sorry got carries away there. that being said. there are several more protections for those buying (and selling) tickets off the secondary market.
    1) insist on taking a photo of the sellers drivers license or passport with your cell phone camera. no photo…dont buy! it gives you something solid to give police other than a skeecthy description. we insist buyers take copy of our drivers license. it helps pritect the business and insure future sales.
    2) only complete face to face transactions in well lit heavy populated SECURE areas. maybe the scammer is not trying to sell you a ticket but rather ROB you of the money you just withdrew to buy tickets. Banks, casinos, and police stations are excellant places to conduct business. Only a real broker with real tickets would agree to complete transaction at police station.
    3)if you use PayPal only do as business transaction with invoice from seller with EXACT description of item. DO NOT do as personel payment as they are not protected by PayPal guarantee.
    4) if you are a seller, take a counterfiet pen to check buyers cash. scammers sometimes buy real tickets with fake money. Thus banks and casinos are excellant locations for sellers to transact as well so money can be validated.

    again i apoligize for the rant but we dont want psople to get scanned either

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  • @ Chris Kuhn Aug 12, 2011
    It sucks that you are promoting the behavior of making money off of burning man tickets. People who support this behavior don’t have a place on the playa because they apparently just don’t get it. I need a ticket and this whole process of nearly getting ripped off and then having people sell the tickets for profit, what the hell. It is not their event to make a profit off of and you are wrong when you say scalpers are just like a business such as Walmart. It is not a business to scalp tickets. Unless the scalpers have a business license and tax id #, they are breaking the law.

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  • “”ALL OTHERS ARE SCAMMERS!!!! And DO NOT belong in our community.”” and what pray tell does your unicorn fantasy world tell you to do about the thieves,burglars, dope dealers,rapists, scumbags, undercover narcs, night-vision peeping cops that have been part of your fantasy world “community” for longer than you have been going to bman??? pull out your whiny pacifier and do something to benefit others…whining about your imaginary delusional utopia fantasy does nothing. Next year buy a ticket, problem solved.

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  • HELLO! It’s my first burn! A little apprehensive about purchasing burning man tickets via CL after reading numerous posts and warnings! I figured I would try here as well. With that said, anyone have 2 tickets available? I’m willing to pay more than face vaule, and will be very grateful to purchase tickets not too much more than that. Thanks!


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  • @Greg You bought your ticket from me and you are on your way to my house to pick it up. We can take our picture together and all I can say is my word is my bond, I do not tell lies and I detest opportunists. Since I lost my job last week this works out the way things usually work out, very neatly or by the skin of my teeth. See you in a few minutes, have a cup of tea and meet the cats. :)

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  • Hi Will and thanks for the comment-
    I appreciate that in theory I’ll get a response on my ticket validity request, but in practice it’s been two and a half days, and no seller can afford to wait that long.. and scarcely a buyer. I did the best I could to verify authenticity and bought the ticket.

    At this point it’s critical that you let people know there is a minimum 3 day delay, or stop advertising that can actually do anything. I entered into an auction to buy tickets and then was stuck making the buyer wait until, basically, hell freezes over (I believe in the calendar year, that’s the day after the temple burns! :) )

    So buyers beware, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. Take the good advice people have posted about what a real ticket looks like, what the buyer should have in hand, etc. But you will not get help verifying authenticity from burningman, inc. :p

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  • Well Roy Marvelous and RollerSkater775 you are living on the surface of the moon. I have been to Burning Man and and I enjoy it. I don’t fault anyone from selling tickets. Gifting?? You mean like a $320.00 ticket that I bought with my hard earned money and planned 7 months ahead and bought legally unlike the hundreds who didn’t. Now you want me to give you that ticket! I think not.

    RollerSkater775 You’re right, it’s not my event. But they sold a ticket to someone for entrance to their event. Nothing on that ticket says they can’t sell it to someone else or for a profit. So unless B’man changes the rules, there is nothing they or you can do to stop it. And you don’t need a tax ID nor a business licenseto have a business.

    Scalping will never go away people. As long as tickets are sold to an event, any event, there will always be someone who is willing to sell that ticket at a profit.

    See you on the Playa because I planned ahead.

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  • Get ready Larry, the anpnobots are getting ready to take over. Smells like teen spirit, time for the burnners to pratice what they preach, open the gates, meanbean has been cooking the books for years…

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  • Oh my. Well, reading all these posts confirm my feelings that Burning Man is definitely over for me. When you have people posting on here that they are willing to pay more than face value, knowing that is not what this community is about, and scalpers who buy out tickets for an event that they are treating like a concert to see Justin Bieber or a sports event, and people who call themselves “Burners” agreeing with them….well, it’s clearly time for me to move on and let you guys take over what is clearly no longer the gifting, non commercial, radical event that it used to be. Sorry you missed it guys. It was awesome. Have fun paying to get on the art cars, and ‘buying bottled water” cause that is clearly where you are all headed. Ewwww. Have fun, be safe and consider the possibilities of not focusing on money for one week a year. It was all about gifting and giving. Your very actions and desperate energy will not serve you well now or in your everyday lives. Just think about it. Love to all of you.

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  • Burners, i’ve been scammed!!!! I bought a ticket from a guy named Anthony Berson in Hawaii. And due to several other reports from craigslist where i bought it looks like he’s scammed me. Consider the fact that he was advertising 2 tickets and i’ve seen three reports of this scam.
    My name is Nick and i’m from Australia. This was supposedly gonna be my first burn, and i’ve already put in 3 weeks of working on an art car in Oakland for the festival as well as organizing our camp with other members.
    Is there anyone out there who can help me with a ticket? I’ve already put in weeks of hard work on the other side of the world from home, and I would hate for that not to pay off.
    Nick from Australia.

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  • HaHaHa…serves you right…take all the money away from these hipsters! GO SCALPERS! Burn that bitch to the ground! Sorry but Burnout Man has been sold out already for years now! Now taste your medicine.

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  • You get out what you put in. If you think BMan is long gone because some people are scammers or are ok with people making money off tickets, then Bman is long gone… for you.

    If you think it’s ok to make money off tickets, and you still live the BMan giving/community/self-expressive experience, BMan is alive… for you.

    If you recognize that every community, no matter it’s intent or size, will have problems and challenges and crime and times of selfishness — because even when our intent is to be giving and compassionate we are still humans struggling on a path — then BMan can still be alive… for you.

    As for me, I’ve spent 8 months preparing, I’m officiating 5 wedding ceremonies, I’m a Temple Guardian, and I’m attending with the most compassionate, loving, shaman-souled man I’ve ever known. BMan is already alive for me — and, no matter the attitudes or actions of a few people, it always will be.

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    I almost got taken by this scumbag tonight. Fortunately I had my list of known fakes and a real ticket to compare. Unfortunately I’m just a girl and the guy was HUGE, so I just got the heck out of there. He is still at large! It was a VERY good fake! the only difference was that the embossing didn’t show through on the back.


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  • It’s really sad the way this worked out this year. :-( I mean it’s great that really that many people want to be apart of such a wonderful and unforgettable place. I mostly just feel sad as being a burner for many years now, one of the things I always felt was the right thing to do was to buy the ticket at top tier in order that people who have less money can get the lower priced tickets. Some years i have even waited til the week of burning man and did a swing buy the melting pot in reno to just purchase my ticket there literally on the way to burning man. Its nice to just have it instantly, no pay shipping, etc… anyways, just posting this comment to just say that it really is a shame that it worked out the way it did this year. I’m sorry that there really are that many more people that would still love to go and just can’t. I am also sorry that there are also so many people taking advantage of that fact and selling fake tickets. So Sad. Burning man is one of the best places on earth, and getting a fake ticket makes people lose faith in our wonderful community.

    For those of you still looking for tickets, i hope you make it home this year. If you can’t though, don’t worry i am sure basenectar will be there again next year (haha if you have seen that youtube video you would so be laughing right).

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  • I just called a scammer on Craigslist and asked him if he made the huge profit he had hoped for by selling Buring Man tickets. He simply responded “yeah, I made a LOT of money. I’m in New Zealand now. Gotta go.” The tone seemed to be “kiss my ass, I’m on vacation with all the money I made off of the people”. He sold his tickets on a few venues, but I found his information on Craigslist. His name was Mike and his phone number was (574) 971-7927. With that information I researched him on the net and found he was selling tickets with this name and number and the address of 64914 Appleblossom Lane, Goshen, In 46526 on other sites. A little more research and I found the person with this address and phone number are as follows:

    Name: Michael Joseph Griffin
    Phone: (574) 971-7927
    Address: 64914 Appleblossom Lane
    Goshen, In 46526
    HomeSpecs: 4 Bedroom/ 2bath/ 1,824 sq. ft. / swimming pool

    Does it sound like this man needs to essentially steal from people? I don’t think so. Burning Man, please consider blacklisting this person’s credit card information when he tries to buy more tickets to make his profits off of the people.

    I think it would be great if others would send letters to Mike and ask him to not destroy the meaning of burning man for his own rich profits. Stay home in your big house and go swimming in your private pool, and let the rest of us keep our money.

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  • Posted wanted ad for tickets, a number from Toronto called me a couple days ago saying he had 4 tix for $1000, and needed me to send the money via western union/moneygram etc. Phone # is 647-708-0492. He’ll rush you to ‘commit’ to buying the tickets, then rush you to get to a wal mart or whatever to send the money, he offered to take only $500 upfront which proves he’s a legit guy. He wouldn’t accept paypal because of his ticket broker policies The money would go through ticket master he said, through a processor in another country. Sounded like a gangster fking loser. Be careful!!!

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  • Virgin Burners we got scammed for 800.00 guys supposed name was Brandon Wunder said he was a nice sculptor and his playa name was Mud his phone number was 310-730-1816. Gave us a confirmation number of 133427 with a four digit PIN number. Used a ticket exchange that used the phone number of 415-429-7917 that announced when you call “Burning Man Ticket Exchange” I spoke to three different operators who verified the tickets were real and said they were transferring them into my name. Now the ticket exchange number is disconnected and Brandon Wunder isn’t answering. This was 21 days ago. Very elaborate and well organized scam. Sucks!

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