US man jailed for large-scale ticket counterfeiting

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia say a man has been jailed for more than four years for large-scale ticket counterfeiting.

Eugene Smith (45) of Lithonia, Georgia, was sentenced to 51 months in prison this week after being convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods, including tickets for the National Football League’s Super Bowl in 2017 and 2018 as well as other major sporting events and concerts.

Smith sold the counterfeit tickets at the various venues and also distributed the counterfeit tickets to other sellers nationwide for resale to victims, according to a Department of Justice statement. The fake tickets copied authentic trademarks held by numerous organisations as well as security features including holograms.

“Smith targeted events and victims based on profitability – the bigger the event, the bigger the payoff,” said the DoJ.

The scheme involved several steps and multiple players, it explains. After determining which events would draw the most profit, Smith provided a real ticket to the event to his printer for use in the production of multiple fakes. He would then travel to venues to sell the counterfeit tickets or provided the fakes to other sellers to resell to unwitting fans.

Smith and another defendant – Eric Ferguson (50) – were indicted for the offences back in January. Ferguson, who was also charged with the same offenses, testified at the sentencing that he was recruited by Smith to produce the counterfeits.

Prosecutors said the face value of the tickets printed by Ferguson was at least $170,000, but the resale value of the tickets, particularly the Super Bowl tickets, likely far exceeded their face value.

"This case isn’t just about taking advantage of sports fans’ willingness to spend their hard-earned dollars to enjoy a game; this is about ensuring that consumers of all types can trust that when they spend their money, they are getting the authentic product for which they paid," said US Attorney William McSwain.

"Smith is nothing more than a con-artist and thief, and I’m grateful that the judge saw it that way and gave him a sentence that ensures justice for his victims."

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