Every August, an army of scammers emerge to prey on those looking for Burning Man tickets. As a regional chair of Burners Without Borders who has navigated this process many times, I decided to write this short piece about how to identify scammers and how to avoid being ripped off.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should assume everyone who wants to sell you a ticket is a scammer, and check all the things mentioned here before deciding they can be trusted.
First let’s look an an obvious example of a really scammer…
Here we see a person posting in a Burning Man group asking for a ticket. Now this is an especially bad scammer, usually they will be smarter than this. As I mention in my reply, they had no friends, no posts, no previous posts in the group, and no likes or comments even on their profile picture. 100% chance of being a scammer.
Let’s start by looking at their group history by clicking on their name…
As you can see, they have never made any posts in the group except this one trying to sell tickets. And all their comments on other people’s posts are just trying to sell tickets. Other than trying to sell tickets, they have never participated in the group in any way: lots of big red flags.
Now let’s check their personal profile by clicking the three dots…
Wow so this is their entire profile; two pictures, zero friends, zero likes or comments. There is no personal history of having conversations with others. There are no past pictures of this person at Burning Man. There are no pictures of this person with the tickets they say they are trying to sell. There isn’t even a post on their profile about trying to sell the tickets, or any conversation with their friends about trying to sell the tickets.
This is very clearly not a real profile; it’s just someone trying to rip people off.
This is a good example of a very low quality scammer, but assuming all of these things checks out, then what?
Once You find someone who seems legit, then what?
Never ever under any circumstances send money over the internet for a burning man ticket. NEVER EVER.
Always meet them in person.
When you meet them in person, check that the tickets look right, and that they are for the current year.
Check the back to verify the hologram is present.
Then check the Burning Man website to verify that the tickets’ serial numbers have not been voided by Burning Man.
If someone is trying to scam people or breaking rules, Burning Man will void their tickets. So even having a real ticket doesn’t mean you have a valid ticket. Always check to make sure they have not been voided.
Lastly, NEVER pay above face value. The price on their receipt is the price you pay for the tickets. If someone tries to sell you tickets above face value, send evidence of this to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will take care of the situation.
The Only Way To Know For Sure
That you’re not getting ripped off is to go through STEP.
This is an official Burning Man website which allows the secure transfer of tickets between burners.
If you’re trying to buy one outside of step, these are some important things to look for, to avoid getting ripped off.