Published: Oct 31, 2012 2:29 PM EDT

MARCO ISLAND, Fla.- The Marco Island Police Department was recently asked to investigate two cases of internet-related fraud. Although one victim was located in Tennessee and the other resided in Tampa, the cases were linked to Craigslist and a suspect who illegally assumed the virtual identity of a Marco Island resident.

Although the cases are still being actively investigated, MIPD wanted to provide the public information to protect themselves from similar scams in the future. A national financial website identified the seven most common scams perpetrated on internet based classified websites; they include home & apartment rental, car buying & selling, employment and ticket scams. The cases we are currently investigating involve the sale of tickets.

Online classified ticket scams take many forms. The most prolific con is failure to deliver: the tickets are never received after payment is remitted. However criminals have also mastered the art of creating realistic looking yet fictitious tickets which are sold to unsuspecting buyers. A recent trend nationally is the sale of a legitimate ticket which is subsequently cancelled. In this criminal act, a con artist buys for example, an airline ticket online with a credit card, probably a prepaid card. Once the ticket is purchased by the second party and payment received by the seller, the seller cancels the ticket online and has the refund sent to another account. The buyer arrives at the airport and finds out the ticket is not valid.

Crime prevention practitioners suggest the following tips to avoid being scammed when buying tickets online:

Never buy tickets second hand online, only use official promoters, reputable primary ticket sellers or venue box offices.If you do buy resold tickets, ask the re-seller for a receipt to prove they bought the tickets originally, and didn’t just print them.Verify the seller’s identity. Ask for an ID. When individuals buy season tickets to sporting events they are assigned an account number that should match their name. Verify this with the team or business affiliated with the original ticket purchase.Don’t pay the entire purchase price up front. It is suggested that the buyer only send half when the tickets are mailed and the remainder when the tickets arrive and are verified.Never send cash or certified checks, always use a credit card as it offers greater protection and a paper trial.Extremely cheap or hard to get tickets, pushy sellers or sellers who require wire transfer of funds should raise a red flag.

If you suspect the deal is too good to be true, or if you have doubts: don’t buy them.