It's Comic-Con Scam Season!

22 JUNE 2017

You know San Diego Comic-Con is almost here when talk turns to scammers, con artists and thieves. Capitalizing on the thirst for Con badges is an old tradition and a profitable one. The game has changed along with badge sales and pick-up methods, but what stays the same is this: people losing their money without setting foot inside Comic-Con.

CCI blogged about fake badges today, a post everyone should read. Here's the gist of it:
  • Only badges procured through CCI are legit.
  • Counterfeit badges can look very convincing. Apparently the international game is strong on this one.
  • Badges sold on Ebay, StubHub or other "secondary markets" are voided.  
  • CCI security does spot checks to make sure you have the ID to match your badge.

What I will add: scammers steal social media photos of badges with names on them - and if CCI sees those, they void the badge. People have been warned about this for a year now but they're still posting badges with their names showing.

Can you buy a badge from a scalper?

Yes but you shouldn't. I know I'll get my usual wave of irritated emails telling me scalped badges are fine and I don't know what I'm talking about, but there are some good reasons not to buy from a scalper:

1) You're encouraging a toxic pattern where more and more scalpers fill the badge sales*, getting a bigger share of available badges to sell at wildly marked-up prices - hurting attendees (like you) trying to get a badge.
2) Scalpers won't hesitate to screw you over just like they're trying to screw CCI. Your Rick Grimes badge could be fake.
3) If you do get checked for ID and can't produce the right one, you may eliminate your chances of going to SDCC ever again.
4) CCI is against it. They don't want badges being resold.
5) While getting a badge legitimately is difficult, you can increase your chances by getting active in the SDCC community and working with a group. And then you can reallocate that extra $1-2K on a swank room at the Marriott Marquis.
6) You can go to other Cons that are just as fun while you wait for the 2018 badge sale.

I'm a realist; I know that people are desperate to go to SDCC and if they can afford to drop a small fortune on a Preview Night badge, some nebulous code of honor isn't going to stop them. I also know plenty of scalpers are operating offline to avoid the CCI Black Ops Task Force.** So go ahead and continue sending me your smug emails about the great badge you just bought on Craigslist where you actually saw the confirmation email. You may indeed have bought a real badge and you'll probably have a great time at the Con. But I guarantee some of you are getting taken for a ride.

* CCI and other people say the high demand for badges makes it hard for scalpers to prevail. I say: do the math. Let's say 100 scalpers got picked last year in Open Reg 2016, getting 3 badges apiece. (I don't know the real number but I heard of quite a few people being approached by scalpers or doing business with them.) That gave them 300 opportunities in Returning Reg this year. Assuming at least 200 of those got into either RR or Open Reg, and got 3 badges apiece, now that's 600 spots they have for the next Returning Reg and 900 for the next and so on. You get the idea: even if it's a "small" number of scalpers, they're still taking badges away from rightful attendees for their own profit.

**not its real name


  1. I paid 700 for a badge last year not 2,000. And I had no problems at all. If you know who to work with its safe.

    1. That's very low for a Preview Night badge, if that's what you got. Everyone I know who got approached got quotes starting at 1K. And unless you get a fake ID made, it's really not ever guaranteed to be safe.

  2. I respect the measures to keep scalpers from getting badges, but I have been trying to get one day pass for 3 years to no avail. So this year I happened to be headed to San Diego. Is there any way to legally get a ticket if you were not selected in open registration?

    1. Just contests. CCI used to sell off returned badges around June but they haven't done that in a few years. Do you know anyone who does have a badge?

  3. That's because people don't need to return passes if they can sell them off for 3-4 times the amount they're actually worth.