The term scalper has several definitions. It may apply to a day trader in the stock market who purchases stock and quickly sells it, usually within a matter of minutes, for small profits. The term scalper may also refer to anyone who purchases collectibles not to collect but to make money by selling them at a profit. Another form of scalper purchases hard to get items, like popular new toys released during the Christmas season, and then sells them at a much higher price.
Most commonly, people use the term scalper to describe people who purchase large blocks of tickets for sporting events, Broadway shows, or concert performances. They then resell these tickets, usually right in front of the venue where the event will occur. Prices of tickets sold by a scalper may have as much as a 100% markup, but people may have to use a scalper when they cannot get tickets by any other means.
In many states, the activities of the scalper are illegal, especially when he or she sells the tickets right outside the location of the event. On the other hand, purchasing tickets in advance and selling them from one’s home or place of business for a higher price is often not considered illegal.
One should be wary of the ticket scalper, since he or she may sell tickets that are not real. If one is desperate to attend an event, look for people who are selling an extra ticket or two at market value. Many people end up with an extra ticket by accident, and are willing to sell the ticket for its original price.
Also occasionally, predators will pose as ticket scalpers in order to lure people away from an event and rob or hurt them. One should never follow a scalper anywhere that takes one away from the public view. This is a dangerous practice that could get one hurt, especially if the fake scalper knows one is carrying a lot of cash to make a purchase.
Even though the actions of a scalper at the site of an event tend to be illegal, they are hard to enforce since so many people scalp tickets. Usually a scalper operates with nonchalance toward any state statutes forbidding scalping.