Two New York Men, Members of Counterfeiting Ring, Sentenced to Years in Prison for Trafficking Fake Super Bowl and Other Game and Concert Tickets
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Damon Daniels, 49, of Bronx, New York, was sentenced today to 24 months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release by the United States District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick for his participation in a conspiracy to produce and sell counterfeit tickets to sporting events and concerts. One of his co-defendants, Rahiem Watts, 31, also of Bronx, New York, was sentenced last week to 41 months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release, also by Judge Surrick for his role in the same scheme.
Daniels pleaded guilty in September 2019 to charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, and Watts pleaded guilty to similar charges in November 2019. The charges stem from both defendants’ participation in a scheme with others to create counterfeit tickets to sporting events and concerts held in Philadelphia and throughout the country. The counterfeit tickets bore the authentic trademarks of the respective organization or agency that was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Specifically, Daniels and Watts printed counterfeit tickets for events, sold the counterfeit tickets at various venues, and also distributed the counterfeit tickets to other sellers nationwide for resale to victims. The defendants and their associates advertised the fake tickets on websites like Craigslist, tricking unsuspecting fans into paying hundreds of dollars with nothing to show for it.
High-profile games for which the group created counterfeit tickets include Super Bowl LI (51) in Houston, Texas between the Patriots and the Falcons; the September 2017 Eagles v. Giants NFL game in Philadelphia; and the March 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball ACC Conference Championship game between Duke and Notre Dame at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
High-profile concerts for which the group created counterfeit tickets include the September 2016 Adele show at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and the June 2017 U2 “The Joshua Tree Tour” at Lincoln Financial Field, also in Philadelphia.
“Big games and concerts obviously draw the interest of fans, but unfortunately, they also draw the interest of scammers,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “These criminals try to use these events to make a quick buck at the expense of unsuspecting fans. In order to protect against fraud, I encourage event-goers to purchase tickets through authorized vendors and to be skeptical when it comes to ticket deals that seem too good to be true.”
“Watts and Daniels peddled their fake tickets for real profit and burned a lot of innocent people in the process,” said Tara A. McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Victims lost not only their money, but their shot to attend some very special events. Know that the FBI will keep cracking down on counterfeiters trying to sell the public a false bill of goods.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department, and the Duluth, Georgia Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joan E. Burnes and Anita Eve.