CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - A family of Clemson fans from Charlotte is down nearly $6,000 after the national championship tickets they purchased from an online seller were rejected at the gate and deemed illegitimate by stadium staff in Tampa Bay.
Haley Leslie, a senior at Clemson University, spoke with FOX 46 Charlotte via Skype on Tuesday about what happened when she and her family traveled to Florida to watch their Clemson Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the national championship.
“This was supposed to be our big family vacation, my brother flew out to Tampa from L.A. ,my parents and I flew out from Charlotte, now I can’t stop thinking about what happened, and the bad taste I have in my mouth,” Leslie said.
Leslie told FOX 46 Charlotte that while she and her parents were waiting for their flight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on the Friday before the game, she was looking online for tickets to the game, and found what appeared to be a great deal.
“We found these good seats not too far apart, and the guy kind of wheeled and dealed with us, and we got to an agreement and decided once we landed in Tampa, we were gonna meet him around noon at a nearby exit,” Leslie said.
Leslie said the man offered to meet in front of a police station, showed them his Kentucky I.D. card, showed the family the tickets, and everything appeared to check out.
“[The tickets] had the hologram and everything, and I had seen the real tickets too, it matched up from what I had saw,” Leslie said.
The family purchased four tickets from the seller at a price of $1,400 each.
But when they arrived at Raymond James stadium on game night, their tickets were rejected.
“We got to where they scan your tickets, and my ticket wouldn’t scan, it gave us a red X where everyone else was getting green X’s, we went to the box office and I immediately started bawling my eyes out.”
Leslie told FOX 46 she and her family were brought to a line with around 20 other people who had been scammed, where a lone detective was filing claims.
“We fought back and forth with the police officers and the box office for about two hours, we missed the whole first half, It was just something I could never get back,” Leslie said. “When we finally gave up arguing with them, I couldn’t even explain the feeling that I had. At first I thought it was a mistake, I genuinely thought it was a mistake, we went to the box office and I thought there was no doubt we were getting in, I thought they were real tickets.”
Leslie told FOX 46 the Tampa Bay police officer told her family they didn’t have enough manpower to go send someone to see who was sitting in the seats.
After realizing they weren’t going to get into the game, Leslie and her family went to a restaurant with other Clemson fans down the street from the stadium, and watched the Tigers win the national championship on T.V.
“I had a little breakdown in the bathroom at the restaurant, but after that I told myself we were gonna enjoy this so I went out there and I was the only student there so they let me lead the cadence count at the end of it, and I’ll never forget that moment,” Leslie said.
Leslie told FOX 46 her family has since gotten in contact with the man who sold them the faulty tickets.
“He swears on his life the tickets were real, and at first he wasn’t giving us the info of the guy he got the tickets from, he said he would talk to the detective because he knew we had enough information to get him in trouble,” she said. “We just want our money back, he said he’ll settle up, but that he feels like he’s been betrayed too.”
The case is currently in the hands of the detective with the Tampa Bay police department, whom Leslie says hasn’t been very helpful.
“As much as I want to be excited and happy for my team, and my Clemson family, I still can’t stop thinking about the guy looking at us and being completely confident they were real tickets, someone behind the scenes is scamming us, and it sucks,” Leslie said.
FOX 46 Charlotte asked Leslie if she regrets using Craigslist to purchase the tickets.
“I’ve had so many successes on Craigslist, I don’t know if I would disregard Craigslist for the rest of my life, but I would say be as careful as possible, I don’t really know what the best way to go about this was because I feel like we had all our boxes checked.”