Caution about purchasing tickets from third-party vendors

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PHOENIX - A consumer warning after a Valley woman said she was ripped off by Ticketmaster.

Debbie Lesnick is unemployed and said she just needed a laugh to clear her mind.

She scraped together nearly $250 for a pair of tickets to see one of her favorite entertainers, but instead of cracking a smile Lesnick said Ticketmaster broke her bank.

"Robin Williams, he's one of the greats, he'll probably never be back again and to find out that I'm out not only not seeing him but out the money too, it hurts," she said.

When Lesnick found out her favorite comedian, Robin Williams, was coming to town, she jumped at the chance to buy tickets.

She logged on to Ticketmaster.com, but was redirected to Ticketsnow.com, where prices went sky-high.

"I think Ticketmaster they were $75, and it was almost double on Ticketsnow," she said.

Lesnick didn't think much of it because Ticketmaster owns Ticketsnow.

She put $240 on her debit card for two tickets.

"About a week later, I got the tickets in the mail, they were a Xerox copy and I was a little leery about it," Lesnick said. "It said it's purchased through a Nicole Kurtansky, which that is not me."

Lesnick said she called Ticketmaster, and was told not to worry that Ticketsnow is a third-party vendor which resells tickets when fans decide they don't want them anymore.

"It's a very big business, especially with headline entertainers," Attorney General Terry Goddard said.

Lesnick went to the Dodge Theater the night of the show, but when she got to the door she was told the show was sold out and there was someone in her seats.

Lesnick was turned away and felt she was duped.

The same scenario played out for about 2,000 Bruce Springsteen fans in New Jersey earlier this year.

People who paid inflated prices for tickets to see Springsteen in concert complained.

They'll now get a refund and Ticketmaster has been fined $350,000.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard warns consumers to be conscious of second-hand ticket vendors because they are legal.

"That implies that somebody is making a little extra off the consumer that they shouldn't be making and we need to make sure that people are warned about it and that if there's any fraud we need to look into it," Goddard said.

Goddard said there's one way you can give yourself an advantage when buying from questionable ticket brokers.

"I absolutely recommend that you use a credit card for that very reason because it gives you a second look at the bill and you can challenge a price on the credit card and refuse to pay it if in fact you didn't get the product you contracted for," he said.

Lesnick submitted a complaint to Ticketmaster, which is looking into resolving her situation.

The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the company's ticket reselling activities.

Ticketmaster is now being forced to turn over all broker contract information it has with Ticketsnow.