HOUSTON – The Houston Astros start their series against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park this weekend. One Magnolia family hoped they would be there in person cheering on the Astros and celebrating their son’s 11th birthday, but the mom reached out to KPRC 2 with a buyer beware.
Mom joined closed Facebook groups to buy tickets
The tickets Alison Allen purchased vanished along with the guy on Facebook whom she sent the money to. Bryson Allen just turned 11 years old and he lives and breathes baseball. The only thing more magical than playing the sport is watching his hometown team and his favorite player.
“I love Alex Bregman,” said Bryson Allen.
Mom Alison joined two closed Facebook groups where she read season ticket holders sell seats they are not using hoping to save on fees. The same night she joined she got a hit and a direct message from a man who said he had three tickets.
“The price was reasonable. It wasn’t too good to be true. But it was in my price range and he had three tickets and it sounded good,” she explains.
She did research on the seller
She checked out the seller’s Facebook page. It wasn’t new and there were plenty of pictures. She even asked him to send her a screenshot of the pictures in the MLB App. He complied within 60 seconds with a time-stamped photo. He didn’t have PayPal or Venmo, only Zelle. Alison trusted the deal and sent $270.
“And then I waited and waited and I said, ‘Is everything good?’” said Allen.
Everything was not good. The seller - whose profile is Barry Cooperrider - blocked her, leaving her with no tickets and no money to buy them somewhere else. A birthday surprise for her son was foiled.
“At this point, I would have spent $400 on the tickets just to know that I have them, but now I’m out $270 just to save a little bit and have nothing,” she said.
Zelle and Alison’s credit union told her she was out of luck. When we tried to find the seller, we discovered the Facebook page is fake. A Google image search revealsed this guy is actually a real estate agent in California. He told our KPRC 2 Investigates team his Facebook page was hacked in early June and he no longer has access. Meanwhile, the Fictitious Barry Cooperrider continues collecting money.
“Some people said I got scammed by the same person since the beginning of June,” said Allen. “He’s gonna go around the world doing that and that is not the right thing to do.”
Direct messages may be a warning sign
Administrators of the closed Facebook pages say if you are looking for tickets you should be suspicious of sellers who direct message you instead of commenting on your post where everyone can see them. but even that is not foolproof. Scammers are stealing pictures of tickets legitimate sellers have posted and passing them off as their own.
We did have some good news at the end of all of this. KPRC 2 News was able to send the family to Minute Maid Park for the game!