The band Phish performs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
The band Phish performs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. (Dan Shinneman/ Wikimedia Commons)

A Dunwoody couple hoping to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary with a July trip to see jam band Phish at New York’s Madison Square Garden instead found themselves suckered into paying $10,496 for what they thought was $400 worth of tickets through an online broker.

As detailed in a complaint filed last week, Kimberly and Kenneth Copeland realized after they bought the tickets in February that they’d been phished away from what they thought was a Ticketmaster website to an unknown vendor’s website and tried to undo the purchase, to no avail.

The website the Copelands claimed scammed them, Tickets-Center.com, refused to cancel the order, and American Express refused to credit the charges back.

And the tickets themselves? A classic bait-and-switch, according to the complaint. The broker didn’t even have them to sell.

“It’s not just that we want the money back,” said attorney Crystal Wright, whose clients were allegedly filleted and hung out to dry by the online site.

“At this point, it’s a public interest thing,” Wright added. “People say, ‘I was scammed out of $500, now I don’t want to pay a lawyer $2,000 to try to get my money back,’ so they let it go. We’re hoping to put an end to that.”

The Aug. 4 complaint Wright filed in Fulton County Superior Court names a Nevada company, Red Dog Media Inc., and owners Bryce and Michael Landier as defendants along with Tickets-Center.com, Secure Tickets LLC, Ticket Fulfillment Center LLC, Secure-tix.com and American Express.

It said Kenneth Copeland was “mortified” when the confirmation he received upon entering his credit card number showed that, instead of the $400 he had agreed to pay for the tickets, he was charged $2,000 per ticket plus a “processing fee” of more than $2,000.

Upon further investigation, the document indicated that “not only had he been scammed by a company with whom he had not intended to do business, the company did not even have tickets to sell,” the complaint said.

“Although their website was set up to show they were selling tickets to available seats, they were actually selling tickets they hoped to be able to obtain at a later date, giving themselves until 24 hours before the concert date to obtain and deliver those tickets to defrauded buyers.”

Red Dog Media called the complaint frivolous and said it will be defended in court.

“The lawsuit’s allegations are irresponsible and contrary to the facts,” the company said in an email. “Although the plaintiff regrets his decision, he was presented with full and complete information regarding pricing, terms and conditions.”

The suit includes counts for violating Georgia law regulating ticket brokers as well as federal counts for unfair trade practices and violation of the 2016 Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which makes it crime to use computer software, or BOTS, to circumvent internet security systems designed to limit the number of tickets one purchaser can buy.

Other counts include fraudulent concealment, theft by deception and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Wright said she was in discussions with Red Dog Media representatives about a possible settlement, but no progress has been made.

American Express “has been working with us,” she said.

Wright said the Copelands, “big Phish fans since 1989,” ultimately purchased tickets through another vendor and were able to see the show.

“What’s so unfortunate is that the tickets they were after [in February] were really choice seats and the tickets they ended up securing—not so much,” she said.

To make matters worse, there was a medical emergency where they were seated during the show, Wright added.