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|| News Item: Posted 2003-03-02

Don't Try This at Home: Don't fake your way into a pro arena
By Rod Mar, The Seattle Times

There's an old joke in show business that goes, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer comes back: "practice, practice, practice."

If you're looking to get into the United Center for a Chicago Bulls game, or any other pro venue for that matter, you might want to take the above advice to heart.

One thing's for certain -- the one certain way NOT to get into a pro arena with a legitimate credential is by trying to lie, cheat, and fake your way inside.

In one of an ever-growing number of similar incidents, a purported "photographer" has tried to fake his way into the Chicago Bulls vs. Seattle Sonics game at United Center this upcoming April.

And he's been caught.

The person in question called the Seattle Times photo desk recently, asking the sports photo editor if they had need for freelance photos from the game, noting that he already had procured credentials and was seeking to have them published at no charge.

The photo editor, suspicious of nature of the call, told the person that they had no need the photos, but thanked him for the offer.

Then, on February 26, the Times photo desk received a call from the Chicago Bulls PR staff, asking if they'd assigned a freelance photographer for the game between the Sonics and Bulls in April, as they'd received a faxed request but wanted verification.

Surprised, the same photo editor told them that the Times, in fact, had not made such arrangements, and asked that the documents requesting the credentials be faxed to Seattle.

The faxed documents reveal two letters faxed to the Bulls; one an introductory letter, and the second a letter "from" the Seattle Times verifying the assignment.

Here's how involved the deception got:

-- On the introductory letter, the "photographer" in question was using a faked business name -- "Sports Addict Photography, Ltd, Professional Sports Photographers", and listed an address in Seattle that does not exist.

-- The email address the "photographer" left has a domain name that Internet research shows is provided by a business that sells email addresses.

-- On the letter "from" the Seattle Times sports photo editor, the "photographer" left a return phone number of someone in the Times sports department who claims no knowledge of the person.

-- Finally, the "photographer" went so far as to try to "sign" the name of the Times photo editor -- only he misspelled it.

The results of this person's effort are this: Not only will he not be shooting the game in April, but he can expect to hear from attorneys from the Times, who are not only concerned about false impression he was creating by using a handmade Times letterhead, but they are also looking into the fraud that occurred when he falsified a signature of a Times employee.

This person's name is also being circulated throughout the NBA as a security precaution, due to the increased security measures currently in place.

Needless to say, the consequences of trying something like this are dire if you get caught -- no credential or access to a sporting event is worth being professionally "blacklisted" over.

(Rod Mar is a staff photographer with the Seattle Times and a frequent contributor to the Sports Shooter Newsletter. Rod will be a faculty member for the upcoming Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau 2003.)

Related Links:
Rod Mar's member page

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