Scalping charges leveled at firm

The attorney general claims the Columbia company broke laws on Cardinals ticket sales.
Friday, October 1, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:07 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

A Columbia online ticket broker has been accused of illegally scalping St. Louis Cardinals post-season baseball tickets.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing Show-Me Tickets Inc., accusing the company of selling tickets above their face value at sporting events in the state, according to a suit filed Thursday.

In particular, the suit says an undercover investigator on Wednesday bought two tickets for the first game of the 2004 National League Division Series for $70 each. The face value of each ticket is $19.

Show-Me Tickets has control of more than 2,800 Cardinals post-season tickets, Nixon said in a statement.

Missouri law prohibits scalping sports tickets, which it defines as reselling or offering to resell tickets to events for more than the price printed on the ticket.

The law itself is a criminal misdemeanor. Nixon’s civil suit says that Show-Me Tickets misled consumers into believing that scalping is legal in Missouri. The suit seeks restitution for those who may have bought tickets and penalties against the company.

The lawsuit says that Show-Me Tickets is registered with the Missouri Secretary of State. The Show-Me Tickets Web site, however, lists the company’s headquarters as Columbia, Ill.

Licensed brokers in Illinois may legally scalp sports tickets, and may legally sell tickets to Missouri residents for Missouri sports events.

But the broker’s transactions took place within Missouri, said Scott Holste with the attorney general’s office.

“They purport to have administrative offices in Columbia, Ill., and they say that they are registered as a ticket broker in Illinois,” he said. “However, we believe the actual place of business is over on Vandiver (Drive), in Columbia, Mo.”

The Better Business Bureau lists the broker’s corporate offices in Illinois, but reports a local area code for its customer service phone number. The customer service contact is also the company president.

Receptionists at both the Illinois and Missouri telephone numbers declined comment, as did a representative at the company’s local office on Vandiver Drive.

An automated voice recording at the local telephone number says, “Our tickets are sold for more than face value.” A sign posted at the local office says tickets cannot be purchased at the Vandiver location and directs customers to the company Web site or to the Illinois office.

A hearing on a temporary restraining order, which would bar the broker from selling 2004 post-season Cardinals tickets, is scheduled for today in St. Louis City Circuit Court.

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