Big10 Craigslist Scam

Submitted by IllegalShift on November 30th, 2011 at 3:48 PM

I'm sure many of you saw the tweets & articles this morning regarding the Big10 championship game "seat-filler" Craigslist posting. 

A few people on the internet got a little over zealous and posted a bunch of info thoughts that weren't true. 

Here is a rundown of what was going on with actual researched facts.



November 30th, 2011 at 3:58 PM ^

Good work to the writer there doing the ground pounding to get denials.  He could be less of a sanctimous twit at the end though.  

As it stands though we'll see.  It's Tuesday and Stubhub has pages and pages of the tickets for sale at discount prices.  This Craigslist posting could be a scam, satirical commentary, or some other entity this guy didn't get denials from doing it.  I would think if it was legit though they'd find a more subtle way to recruit.  


November 30th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

It's also quite possible they are expecting empty seats from the Michigan, OSU, PSU, etc... fans that bought the initial release of tickets to not show up.  

When those people don't show, they want someone to fill the seats.  Does anyone know someone who responded to the ad?

Yostbound and Down

November 30th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^


Captain hindsight here but I had a feeling that was a load of bullcrap. 


But it's still embarrassing to see tickets going for ten bucks on StubHub. The Pac 12 is doing it the right way by having the school with the better conference record host the game.


November 30th, 2011 at 6:58 PM ^

possible minor difference...the PAC12 is typically a bit more hospitable to late November/early December games outdoors...Indy has a dome and can deal with all conditions essentially....granted it's not the only venue with a dome in the midwest, however I'd be in favor of it...though Saturday at whiskey could be challenging.

Yostbound and Down

November 30th, 2011 at 8:28 PM ^

That is a good point about the weather...

It would actually be Sparty if we based it on who had best conference record. That to me seems like it would be the best deciding factor, although I suppose you could say whoever won head-to-head could host, but seeing as there are two divisions, the two teams in the game may not always play each other.

Not that Indianapolis isn't a great city, but for hosting a game drawing people from many states, Chicago would function better. Although again, you have the weather, but I think that might actually be kinda a cool element that the B1G game would have versus the warmer weather for the other conference championship games.


November 30th, 2011 at 4:05 PM ^

What of the flooded market on stubhub then, Is that a scam too? I must admit that I found the craigslist thing to be hard to believe but the criticism that these neutral games are way less marketable than they are purported to be by bean counters is compeletly valid.

TV is a different story, and I'll definately watch. The matchup also probably has something to do with it as well.


November 30th, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

Just because you do part of the research doesn't make your conclusions automatically right.  The author doesn't even cover the idea that the tickets that were sold aren't going to be used. It would be like writing an article about a college football team exceeding practice limits without researching what a countable hour is.


And the scam part of it, is someone really going through this whole thing to get a bunch of email addresses?


November 30th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

The research was to show that we had evidence. And that it is ridiculous to think the Big10 would put an ad on Craiglist to give away tickets to the Championship game. 

I'm sure most would agree that if Michigan was in the game, people on this board would every ticket they could get their hands on. 


Email addresses go for good money on the black market. 


November 30th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

It's around 40 dollars per million these days, but you can sell it multiple times.  So you have that going for you.  Craigslist though is small change.  Much better to just write a bot to go mine and places like that.  Or hack someone to get a dump of their database for emails.  

The Craigslist honeypot approach has some use, but it's painfully slow compared to the others on the table.  The only good thing is you can claim satire if the Feds knock on your door over ads like this.  Whereas if you hack PSN to get 50 million emails the big guns get trotted out.   

MI Expat NY

November 30th, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

That's sort of what I figured.  How many people could actually respond to this post, assuming it was left up?  A couple thousand?  To do all that and be so careful with how you described the event doesn't seem like the best method of acquiring email addresses.


November 30th, 2011 at 6:39 PM ^

It's much easier to post up a "women seeking men" ad using the pictures of some random hot girl.  Or post up that you're giving away something nice for free or really cheap.  Doesn't take long and you can repost all over the place. Taking time to write something like the seat filler ad takes time and is limited to one city.  

So it is likely satire or it was legit.

MI Expat NY

November 30th, 2011 at 4:11 PM ^

Isn't it possible that someone connected to the game, possibly at the Big Ten's request, posted the original ad, then after the general mockery, decided it be best to take down the ad/twitter account and deny any knowledge?  

I guess I don't really see what would be the "scam" in doing this.  Get some people to show up an hour and half before the game?  To whose benefit?  It could very well have been a joke/satire/whathaveyou, but there is also a very plausible use for this kind of service.  We all know the ACC has been ridiculed the last few years for swaths of empty seats at its championship games.  The Big Ten could have seen all the tickets available on the secondary market and said, "hmm... it might be worth $75K to minimize the effect of no-shows on TV."  It's every bit as plausible as the idea that since the Big Ten denied (which must be true!) and the post is now down, it had to be fake from the beginning.  


November 30th, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

this seems more likely

the author also didn't post anything indicating there's a scam going on. he's just taking the schools' word for it that they sold out all their tickets then concluding that there could be no other explanation than somebody is trying to scam people here

being unable to do so would be very embarassing, and I could see why the AD wouldn't want to make this public and give the tickets back


Section 1

November 30th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

... one or two bloggers seem to have jumped to conclusions.

But now, I am not willing to jump to another conclusion; namely, that this was all a scam.  So far, I have seen good evidence that the B1G had no formal role.  Nor did either team.  And the ICC's denial is a lot like the B1G's denial.


But before I conclude that this was a scam, coming from a fraudster with no connection to the game, I'd like to see some evidence of that.

To me, the most logical and least exotic explanation is that this was real, but done by a group that was technically separated from any of the aforementioned parties, therby providing any/all of them with "plausible deniability."

Wait; I've got it... THE ANSWER: 


November 30th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

Hmmm....i find this odd with one of the participants being a "National Power" and all with their current 4 yr bowl losing streak and everything.

Oh well what do I know .


November 30th, 2011 at 4:23 PM ^

The championship games are never really about ticket sales and the crowd that is present at the actual game. It's all about the television revenue they generate. This whole, we'll pay you to come watch is probably either made up by someone (because you know, it's so hard to make your own craigslist ad) or is actually true and is the Big Ten trying to save face at the inaugural champ game. (And not be the ACC)


November 30th, 2011 at 4:23 PM ^

They uh, could have lied to you.  I mean, you can't really call them out on it, unless the game looks like an ACC championship game, but yeah, they could have lied to you.


November 30th, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

And I don't disagree with you doing the legwork that other bloggers should have done before they wrote their articles, but it's possible the Big Ten is doing PR damage control right now on this.  

I don't know if I can say for sure that it would be different if Michigan were in the game, but it's somewhat plausible that Sparty wouldn't travel for this game.  They haven't always sold out Spartan Stadium, and Lucas Oil is of a similar size.  Plus, Wiscy fans have only known about being in the game for four days now.  Not a lot of time to prepare.


November 30th, 2011 at 4:42 PM ^

Lets see:

  • It's 4 days from kickoff
  • StubHub has 4,677 tickets for sale, which of course isn't the sum of the secondary market
  • Secondary market prices are at the rock bottom for a lot of tickets.
  • Everyone mocks the ACC for their massively empty bowl

So even if Michigan was playing, I'd still believe a rumor B1G/ICC/someone was arranging seat fillers as a backup plan.  There is the belief we travel well and then there would be the facts.  If this is the premier national showcase of your product, you want it to look good and you cover your bases.

Plus the top of the bowl at Michigan stadium by the scoreboards has been empty at times this year.  I'm not sure if I buy the official figures for attendance at some of our games.  

MI Expat NY

November 30th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

For another example, there are still 1,700 SEC tickets left, granted at much higher prices.  But that's for the #1 team in the country and a local college powerhouse.  This is also getting right down to the wire.  None of the tickets available have electronic delivery options.  So, if you want tickets in hand on Friday, pretty much have to go out the door tomorrow morning.  Sure, some could drive on Saturday and pickup tickets at the game, but I doubt that's a high percentage of sales on stubhub.


November 30th, 2011 at 5:26 PM ^

The attendance figures at Michigan Stadium are most likely the number of tickets SOLD, plus press credentails issued, etc.  It most likely is NOT how many actually showed up.

Watch some weeknight Red WIng home games and there are rows of empty seats, yet we hear this is the xth consecutive sellout.  Season tickets holders, typically corporations who give them away, who do not show up to the game are still counted as "attended".


November 30th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

Remind me again why Indianapolis was considered such a slam dunk by the Big 10?  I know it was discussed here earlier but Chicago (easy flights, lots of hotels, other stuff to do, centrally located) seems SO much more fan friendly.  Flights in and out of Indy SUCK and are expensive too - just the opposite of Chicago and lets face it - once you get done shopping at Keystone Crossing you've just about run out of stuff to do in Indy.

Great place to live and raise a family I'm sure.  Destination city?  Not so much.


November 30th, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

Ticket sales aren't -- and were never -- the issue.

That photo that keeps cropping up of the completely empty stadium in Jacksonville for the ACC Championship in 2008 is the entirety of the debate.  That game had over 50,000 tickets "sold", and turnstile records indicate half that many people actually showed up, which led to massive embarrassment to the conference, and further led to the ACC no longer using Raymond James Stadium or bringing the tourism dollars associated with the event to Jacksonville.

Currently, nearly 10% of the ("sold out") stadium is available for sale on stubhub.  Half of those tickets are for face value or below.  Without some sort of assistance, attendance at the game is going to be atrocious.  Who stands to lose? The conference, the stadium ownership, and the city.

Until the "prankster" is outed, I'm on the side of those that think this was a real offer, extremely clumsily executed, that got pulled as soon as it went viral.

MI Expat NY

November 30th, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

One last point in favor of the craigslist posting possibly being real.  This is the Big Ten Championship's first impression.  The conference doesn't have three or four years of traditional powers playing in this game and creating the image that the stadium is always packed.  If there are 5,000 empty seats and it's very noticable on TV, that will stain the game and conference for a few years to come. 


November 30th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

The guys argument is basically "SEE! I called everyone and they told me it wasn't true so it isn't!" Like the ICC would ever tell Random Blogger that yes they are advertising for seat-fillers.


November 30th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

A scam?  If the scammer's goal was to embarass the Big 10, why not come right out and say in the post that they're trying to fill seats for the Big 10 championship?  If the scammer's goal was to get email addresses to run a further scam, why not put the supposed giveaway in neon lights to get more takers?  Your theory is that someone took the time to write a discreet initial post and then sit around for the next few hours sending follow up emails to people that responded.  All for the sake of embarassing the Big 10 or getting email addresses. I guess that's possible but it seems unlikely to me.

You link to a post that mocks certain people who stuck their neck out by attributing the Craislist post to a specific entitiy.  Because those entities publicly deny being responsible for the seat-filling, you think that makes this a scam.  I don't.

The Craiglist poster said he/she was working for a client that wanted to accomplish the seat-filling quietly.  I think that's still the most likely explanation.  You will not get a public "Yes, that was us!" statement from anyone.  Because the only organization that can say "Yes, that was us!" is a random PR firm that never puts its name out publicly because that would defeat the purpose of its services.  I think said random PR firm is in fact trying to fill seats for the game.  I don't think that has been disproven by the public denials of the Big 10, convention center, etc.


November 30th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

The funny thing is this guy wasted most of his day chasing around rumors that even a Michigan State grad would have known were not real. Then he spent the rest of his day typing an article exclaiming to us what any normal individual would have known the second we saw the post.


Now I see why these people in Nigeria reel in thousands of Americans and get them to wire their entire bank account to zimbobway. People are way to believing in crap that is blatantly a load of crap

State Street

November 30th, 2011 at 6:13 PM ^

I think they should hold the game at on campus sites ala the Pac-12.  The conference can guarantee a sell-out, the team with the better record is rewarded, does anyone see ANY downside to this?


November 30th, 2011 at 6:22 PM ^

"Must have red or dark green casual clothing to wear" - from the Craiglist posting

I can  only imagine the MSU fans getting up and sharing a chorus of "Adeste Fidelis" with their Badger compatriots in Indianapolis. A moving B1G moment indeed.

Fortunately, it's a scam.