Woman busted selling fake Busch Gardens tickets

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 04:10:02-04

Tampa Police arrested a 19-year-old woman after an undercover detective purchased 6 fraudulent tickets from her.

The investigation started after victims of the fraud reported the woman to police. According to arrest documents, Chanelle Clipper-Smith sold the tickets to 7 different people. She advertised them on OfferUp and Craigslist.

"They (Busch Gardens employees) were like, 'These tickets have already been used." Kristina Cooper, who purchased 6 tickets from Clipper-Smith, said.

Cooper purchased the tickets on Sunday. She's visiting family from West Virginia with her husband and two teenage daughters. They never made it into the park.

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"My kids are a lot more understanding than I give them credit for." She said.

Cooper's mother is the person who found the offer. She and her mother went to meet Clipper-Smith at an apartment complex clubhouse. Clipper-Smith told them she worked at Busch Gardens and was given the tickets by her employer. Police say all of that is true, except she was fired from the park in May for stealing nearly $1,000 while working at a food kiosk.

Experts say you should try to purchase tickets from the venue and always verify your tickets before handing over your money. Cooper says she'll never purchase tickets off of a site like OfferUp again.

"She taught me a valuable lesson, but she also taught me about my kids." Cooper said.