UT CAMPUS - Hundreds of Tennessee and Alabama fans had their game day hopes crushed even before kickoff this weekend because of fake tickets.
The University of Tennessee ticket office said more than 300 people reported buying fake tickets to the game.
That's more than double the amount of fake tickets that officials discovered for the Florida matchup on Sept. 24.
UT officials warned fans last week to be extra cautious and to watch out, especially when buying from sellers on the street.
However, the prospect of seeing the Vols and Alabama at Neyland Stadium led some to search for a last-minute option.
One Alabama fan told WBIR 10News he drove from Tuscaloosa to see the game and paid $800 for two tickets - only to find out at the gate that they were fake.
"We actually talked to Tennessee fans and compared these with their tickets and they were just really really good counterfeit tickets," Alabama fan Vaughn Gambrel said. "It was really hard to tell the discrepancy between the two.”
UT Associate Athletic Director for Ticket Operations Joe Arnone said tickets on the secondary market started at around $300 on game day.
Arnone said the explosion in fake tickets is due to the Vols playing their two biggest rivals - Florida and Alabama - at home.
It's a trend that's only getting worse.
"I would say they're up especially considering these fraudulent tickets are getting better and better every year,” Arnone said.
UT says fans can avoid getting ripped off by buying from someone you know or buying from secure secondary markets. The school partners with VividTickets.com, which offers protections for fake tickets.
“If they are counterfeit tickets, they would get reimbursed for their loss. Where this way it's a cash transaction on the street and that scalper is trying to sell those tickets and get rid of them,” Arnone said.
Officials advise fans should only buy from reliable sources.
However, if they decide to take on the risk of buying tickets off the street, UTPD gave these tips to consider:
- Ask to take a picture of the seller, look at driver's license. If they're legitimate, they should be good with that
- Ask seller to walk with you to venue
- If you have friends/relatives going to game check with them first
- Don't buy from scalper, try to buy from an event goer
- Avoid people who are saying they're buying tickets but also selling them
- Does seller look like they belong there. Are they dressed for the game?
- Look at tickets before buying from scalper, know what tickets should look like
(© 2016 WBIR)