ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates has discovered the newest theme park ticket scam, one in which park employees and cast members are being targeted.
Eyewitness News investigative reporter Christopher Heath has uncovered an elaborate operation that preys on unsuspecting employees to buy discounted tickets. It's a plan that recently cost two Disney cast members their jobs, but it could have more widespread ramifications for guests purchasing tickets through unreliable sources.
Louise Hall and Robert Stevens were victims of a ticket scam last year while visiting Disney World.
Hall got as far as the Magic Kingdom’s front gate before she was turned away.
“It was humiliating. We missed half our morning,” Hall said.
“They let me go in but they didn't let my girlfriend go in,” Stevens said.
Now, it appears, some of those running such ticket scams are targeting Disney employees to pick up tickets at discounted prices.
In 2011, the state banned the resale of partially used multiday park passes, but not unused single-day passes.
The move didn't eliminate the problem; it only changed the focus, with scammers now going after unsuspecting employees.
“I didn't even know that he was targeting me,” said Pontsho Gooma, a former Disney cast member.
Gooma was fired from Disney's Animal Kingdom this month after he bought tickets for a man who turned out to be an illegal ticket broker.
“I didn't know the gentleman was a scammer,” Gooma said.
Gooma is from Botswana. He and his fellow countryman, Sarona Moabi, were brought to Orlando by Disney to work at the park. Soon after their arrival, they were befriended by a man they knew only as David, and he eventually asked them to help him buy some tickets with their Disney discounts. That's when they lost their jobs.
“That's what put me in trouble,” Moabi said. “I bought tickets for him at a discount and I never even got a cent from him.”
Records obtained by Channel 9 show Disney has trespassed at least a half-dozen people since the first of the year for dealing in bogus tickets.
Employee tickets are not supposed to be resold, and area tourism directors said visitors should only buy from licensed dealers to avoid being left at the gate with no way in and no way to get their cash back.
“No deal is that good when it comes to a ticket to a theme park,” said Brian Martin with Visit Orlando.
While employees are not allowed to resell Disney tickets, private citizens can, but only unused passes.
Anyone caught dealing in partially used passes faces a second-degree misdemeanor.