Sharon Osgood and her boyfriend are headed to the Super Bowl even after they were bilked out of nearly $6,000 when they thought they were buying the prized football tickets on Craigslist.
Despite the scam, Osgood emerged a winner.
Her story caught the attention of Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard, who offered Osgood four free tickets and set her up with breakfast with NFL legend Troy Aikman, according to the Mercury News, which first reported her story.
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A 49ers representative is giving her a pair of tickets, too, because Osgood wanted to bring her nephew's girlfriend. Her boyfriend's daughter and her nephew are also going. She has one left over for another relative.
"I am so super excited," Osgood told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday afternoon. "I can't tell you how blessed I feel. We were crushed, and then we were elated."
A resident of Hayward, Calif., in the Bay Area, Osgood was scouring the Internet looking for deals on Super Bowl tickets so she could see her beloved San Francisco 49ers play the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans on Sunday.
She found an offer on Craiglist from someone named "R. Thomas Pham Quan," who was selling four tickets for $5,900. He told her that he was a tax attorney in Boca Raton, Fla., and a Baltimore Ravens season ticket holder.
Osgood texted and spoke on the phone with this person for four days, she said. She wired the money to the man's credit union, and on Monday, received a FedEx package. But there were no Super Bowl tickets inside.
Instead of tickets, Osgood said, she was sent a picture of quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco with a message underneath that read: "Enjoy the game!!!! Go Ravens!!!"
On Tuesday, the phone number she had been using was no longer working. She said she filed a report with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department late Monday. A spokesman for the sheriff's office was not immediately available to confirm the details.
Osgood said the person sounded so convincing and she felt she "knew" him because they had so many phone and text conversations about the transaction.
"I trusted the guy," she said.
Craigslist warns that buyers should not wire money directly to sellers. Best practices in this online marketing world are that buyers and sellers who connect on Craigslist should meet in public places and pay in cash.
Buyers and sellers on sites such as eBay should heed sellers' ratings listed online, which reflect their number of successful transactions, and pay through PayPal, a secured site owned by eBay.
Osgood was initially worried about going public with her story. But now, she's happy she decided she put a face on her saga. Not only did she score free tickets, but she said she wants to prevent others from falling prey to ticket scammers.
"Who knows? Maybe they scammed other people, too," she said. "I won't ever do this again."