MINNEAPOLIS — More than 150 people didn’t learn they had bought counterfeit Super Bowl tickets until they arrived at U.S. Bank Stadium on game day, according to Minneapolis police.

Minneapolis police Lt. Kim Lund told the Pioneer Press that the number of fake tickets this year was seven times more than discovered at Houston’s game last year. People spent between $400 and $5,000 on the bogus tickets.

“There were no extra tickets — there was no way that we could get somebody into the Super Bowl if they had a counterfeit ticket, period,” said Shawn Neudauer, a Department of Homeland Security public affairs officer. “It’s especially heartbreaking when there’s kids involved and there were several families that came in from out of state.”

Officers arrested 19 people in connection with the fake tickets over Super Bowl weekend. Bloomington police also arrested another four or five people in possession of counterfeit tickets.

Officers set up undercover operations on Craigslist in the 10 days prior to the Super Bowl to find people selling fake tickets to the game and related events, said Minneapolis police Cmdr. Christopher Granger. Police “saw a steady increase in the number and types of counterfeit tickets as the season progressed,” he said.

Authentic Super Bowl tickets have security features that are difficult to duplicate, such as heat-sensitive ink on the back, Neudauer said.

Investigations are underway, Neudauer said. Individuals could be charged in both state and federal court for selling counterfeit tickets.

Authorities also confiscated more than 7,500 pieces of counterfeit merchandise with an estimated value of about $520,000, Granger said.

Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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