If you bought tickets for this weekend's Taco Fest Chicago, you may find that your money is gone--and no tacos for you.

The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, along with The Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau put out an alert over Taco Fest Chicago, which the group says "appears to be a fake festival scheduled this weekend in downtown."

Taco Fest Chicago is advertising free parking, entertainment, and a wide variety of vendors and food trucks providing tacos for every taste. Before the event holders Facebook Page vanished, they were claiming over 1,000 people had purchased tickets. BBB’s attempts to contact the event holders have gone unanswered. No precise location for the event was ever announced, and officials at the City of Chicago, which permits events, have no records of the event.

From the BBB news release:

Jermaine Pigee, of Belvidere purchased three $25 tickets to the event to celebrate his birthday this weekend, “I saw it on Face Book and had a few questions about the event, I sent an email and received an answer right back. I was told the event would be held in the 1300 block of Randolph St. and they answered my questions about the number of tacos we could have.
Pigee adds “Using my debit card I purchased the tickets on May 22nd but as of today I have not received anything. Once they got my money there has been nothing.”
Working through his bank he has been able to get a refund.

 

Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau:

“Sadly, fake festivals and events, as well as phony ticket sales have become a part of the summer strategy for scammers. We urge people to fully check out events before making any purchase because consumers risk losing money, and in some cases handing over credit card and other personal information to scammers.”

What can you do to avoid being scammed on festival tickets? Here are a few suggestions from the BBB:

  • Always fully research event web sites before purchasing. Make sure there is full disclosure of exact location and contact information. Scammers often use names that sound similar to those of real festivals.
  • Check for (working) contact information: Be sure the festival website has a phone number and email address.
  • If you have doubts, Google the name of the festival with the word "scam" after it and see if anything comes up.
  • Pay with a credit card: You can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through. Be wary of online sellers that don't accept credit cards.
  • Look for secure sites: The website should begin with https (the extra "s" is for secure) and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.
  • Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist and other free online listings: Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out third-party ticket sites at bbb.org before making purchases.