TAMPA – Countless ticket buyers thought they were in for a big show this Friday to see popular rap artists perform at a Tampa nightclub. It turns out the whole thing was a scam.
Everything unraveled because police had one very important piece of information. They say one of the scammers selling the fake tickets gave out their phone number too.
Antonio Miller is the accused ring leader. Police say the 36-year-old organized the ticket scam, selling fake tickets to a fake concert. The tickets named Club Nouveau as the place to be this Friday to see famous rap artists.
“Young Jeezy, Gucci Man, Trick Daddy,” said Manager Cliff Mills.
He says people started calling about the event the club knew nothing about.
“Were the artists going to be here? What time are we going to open the doors? Did we have the VIP set up,” said Mills, explaining to FOX 13 what people wanted to know.
Club management was baffled. They got a phone number from a woman who bought tickets. The person who sold the tickets to her gave a number to call in case she wanted more. The club called the number posing as a ticket buyer.
“The lady said, ‘Yes, we have tickets. What do you want regular or VIP,'” said Mills.
The next call was to police. A meeting was set up for Mills to buy tickets outside the dog track on Nebraska Avenue. He requested eight VIP tickets at 40 dollars a piece. The tickets were poorly made with spelling mistakes.
Police say Miller got teenage girls to sell the actual tickets. Tabitha Barnes, 19, of St. Petersburg and Shanise McCray, 18, also from St. Petersburg were both arrested outside of the dog track.
“The two females were part of a street team that were going around the city selling tickets and also handing them out to citizens to get them to come to the would be concert,” said Janelle McGregor, with the Tampa Police Department.
Police say Barnes and McCray hit a Hillsborough Community College campus, among several other locations in the area. They don’t know how many people got the fake tickets. Club Nouveau will find out Friday.
“What the owner is doing is he’s going to honor the tickets when they come in Friday with a drink special or free drink. They’re not going to have to pay anything at all,” said Mills.
The suspects are charged with scheming to defraud, grand theft, and possession of marijuana. Miller is also charged with felony possession of a handgun. Police say Miller had 300 dollars worth of tickets on him when he was arrested. The tickets sold for $10 to $40.