CHICAGO (STMW) – The Bears are a hot (fake) ticket — so buyer beware.

That’s the message the team and Chicago Police have for fans trolling the Internet for tickets, especially for Sunday’s showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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“As the Bears continue to win, we’re seeing an increase in counterfeits. It’s the same kind of trend we saw when they were winning in 2005 and 2006,” Chicago Deputy Chief Jim Keating said. “Fans are coming to the gates and not getting in because they’ve bought bogus tickets.”

Most fake tickets confiscated by police are being sold on Craigslist and eBay, Keating said. In many cases, fans respond to ads and meet scammers at a site away from Soldier Field to exchange good cash for bad tickets.

“They pick a place away from the stadium because if they’re near Soldier Field, they know they’re going to get locked up,” Keating said.

So far this season, police have arrested 14 people for possession of counterfeit Bears tickets, including a Crestwood man arrested for selling fake tickets to the Nov. 14 game against the Vikings for $250 each. Kenneth Babich claimed he bought the fake tickets on Craigslist, realized they were bogus after comparing them to tickets his boss had and then re-sold the fakes. Babich, 24, was charged with felony forgery.

Chicago Police are investigating what they believe is a ring of counterfeiters preying on fans via the Internet.

“The last couple of games, certain phone numbers and descriptions have come up,” Keating said. “These guys do not go by names; we’re trying to connect the dots with e-mails and websites. . . . The majority of victims are from out of state, and the sad thing is they probably won’t even read this [warning]. They’re going to be from Philadelphia.”

Bears ticket operations director Lee Twarling said Bears fans are getting scammed by faceless counterfeiters, too.

“It’s happening to people buying in the suburbs, buying in the city and buying from out of state on game day. We want folks to go to or on NFL Ticket Exchange online,” Twarling said. “When you buy on NFL Ticket Exchange, the bar codes are validated. . . . You can see who is the buyer and seller.”

The fakes typically have different pictures of Bears players who are featured on legitimate tickets, off-center type, bogus seat numbers, spelling errors and other discrepancies. Also, bogus tickets are often printed on glossier card stock, police said.

–Sun-Times, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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