Sixteen charged in fake Chicago sports ticket ring

Here's the latest "beware of scammers" reminder for anyone who buys tickets to sporting events on the secondary market.

The Illinois Attorney General today announced charges against 16 Chicago gang members for a wide-ranging counterfeit ticket scheme for events at Soldier Field, the United Center and Allstate Arena.

In a criminal complaint, Lisa Madigan alleged that all the defendants printed fake tickets for major games and events including Chicago Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks games as well as WWE Extreme Wrestling and Disney on Ice.

They then sold them on Craigslist, Madigan said, completed the sales by meeting victims at area coffee shops or restaurants to exchange the tickets for cash.

Eight of the men charged are in police custody after being arrested by the Chicago Police Department and the FBI, which led the investigation and referred the case to Madigan's office for prosecution. Arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining eight men.

All of the defendants have been charged with forgery, a Class 3 felony. The tickets at issue were mostly sold in 2015; many were for Stanley Cup Final games.

“Today's sweep is a coordinated effort between my office and our federal and state law enforcement partners,” Madigan said in a statement. “The charges against the defendants allege they operated a widespread counterfeit operation to defraud people seeking to attend some of Chicago's most popular events.”

All of the defendants are documented gang members, according to Chicago Police.

“This ticket scheme provided the finances to fuel the engine of violence that has plagued Chicago communities for far too long,” said Chicago Police Interim Superintendent John Escalante in the statement. “We are unwavering in our commitment to keep our neighborhoods safe and will continue to leverage the full weight of our federal and state partners to send a very clear message that gang activity and subsequent gun violence will not be tolerated.”