3 arrested after undercover operation reveals ACL wristband reselling scheme

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police arrested three men Saturday after they say an undercover operation revealed the men sold reused wristbands for the Austin City Limits festival, according to the arrest affidavit.

APD says they were tipped off about a Craigslist post selling ACL wristbands. The tip said the sellers were selling wristbands to people, escorting them into the festival, removing the wristbands and reselling them.

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An APD officer went undercover to determine if the information was accurate. The officer called the number in the ad and was given instructions on where to meet for the sale. At the arranged location, the officer met the suspects who were later identified as Nathan Beck, 30, Cameron Beck, 24, and Michael Martin 33.

The undercover officer was told the wristbands would cost $150 and that he would need either a cell phone or driver’s license for collateral. The officer paid the money and provided collateral. He said he saw Martin lead a group of people to the festival grounds then return with several wristbands. According to the affidavit, the three suspects used small green plastic straws to undo the clasps and loosen the wristbands for the next customers.

Cameron then gave the officer a wristband and walked him towards the front gate with a second group. The officer said once his wristband was scanned and he got inside he returned it to Cameron. As soon as he got his collateral back, uniformed officers moved in to detain Cameron as well as the group that was brought in.

Police say Martin and Nathan soon came to the festival entrance looking for Cameron and were detained as well.

During a search, police found $1,108 in Nathan’s wallet and $926 in Cameron’s possession. All three were carrying the small green straws.

Police contacted C3 Presents, the event management company behind ACL, to ask about the suspects’ operation. C3 Presents told investigators none of the suspects were authorized to sell ACL wristbands in the manner described by police.

Police retrieved a total of six wristbands from the suspects and determined they were collectively scanned a total of 104 times. Police calculated that the total cost of all the scans came out to $10,920.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Officer Destiny Silva explained that at this time they will not go forward with an investigation into the individuals who paid for the reused wristbands.

Silva also said that use of reused — which are considered counterfeit — wristbands is a safety issue in addition to being illegal. She encouraged anyone attending weekend two to find a legitimate seller.

“Do not purchase wristbands from anyone you don’t know,” Silva said.

ACL-goers KXAN spoke to said they noticed people selling wristbands both off the festival grounds and on. Kelsea Shellenberger and Sarah King said they got a bad vibe from the group.

Both Shellenberger and King, who attend music festivals regularly, said the most sure ticket is one you get directly from the source.

“Sometimes it’s a couple dollars more, but at least you know that you are going to get into the show,” King said.

Randy Cohen, the chief energizing officer for Austin retailer, TicketCity, said this type of practice is common when it comes to festivals.

“There’s always going to be someone trying to take advantage of the system,” Cohen said. “It happens in all sorts of capitalistic businesses I’ve been around in the last 30 years.”

Cohen said reputable dealers will never offer phony products and carry liability to ensure your experience is fulfilled.

“Buy from a reputable source so that if there is an issue, that reputable source is going to make sure you get taken care of,” Cohen said. “You get amazing experience, great energy and you get to hang out with friends and family. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

APD said not only is this illegal activity preventing the festival from earning its rightful income, but it is also putting others at risk. When there are more festival goers than what the capacity is expected to be, it creates fire hazards and invites criminal activity.

“We really want to be mindful of unauthorized entry to people committing crimes because overall it affects everyone’s safety,” Silva said.

All three of the suspects were arrested and charged with theft of service between $2,500 and $30,000 as well as engaging in organized criminal activity.

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