More than 150 fake tickets to Super Bowl LII were taken out of circulation by law enforcement before the big game in Minneapolis, officials announced Tuesday morning. Nineteen people were arrested, but that's small consolation to people who bought the counterfeits.
A team of local law enforcement officers, federal investigators and NFL representatives, among others, started sweeping for counterfeit tickets and merchandise on Jan. 26.
Officials say they recovered about $520,000 worth of counterfeit items in total during sweeps of businesses. Businesses ranged as far north as St. Cloud and as far south as Rochester, Minneapolis Police Department Lt. Kim Lund said Tuesday.
The counterfeit tickets sold for between $400 and $5,000, Lund said. She said the fake tickets bought and sold ahead of the Super Bowl were the best she's seen in 20 years of work.
Finding fake ticket brokers is difficult and no money lost in counterfeit purchases has been recovered yet, but there may be federal indictments coming in some cases, said Homeland Security Public Affairs Officer Shawn Neudauer.
Neudauer said he worked with one family who drove 9 hours from out of state only to discover that the tickets they'd purchased were fake.
"We do everything we can to prosecute … but it'll never be the same [for victims]," Neudauer said.
Rilyn Eischens is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.