As thousands of fans flocked to U.S. Bank Stadium for the Super Bowl, so did fraudsters, pickpockets and pranksters.
Minneapolis police filled out nearly two dozen reports on Sunday alone from people who bought counterfeit tickets to the game, including a 69-year-old Vadnais Heights man who showed up to the stadium only to discover that the two tickets he bought off Craigslist for $1,500 were not real. In another case, two Texas men bought what turned out to be knockoff tickets, which authorities determined had been stolen from the Seattle Seahawks.
A 37-year-old Chicago man paid $1,500 for a ticket for Section 310 from someone at the corner of 4th Street and Chicago Avenue. But when security guards tried to scan his ticket at the entrance, it was revealed to be a fake, police said. The seller was never found.
Pickpockets were also busy.
All week, revelers attending various NFL-themed events around downtown Minneapolis reported having credit cards stolen by thieves, who turned around and ran up thousands of dollars in charges at nearby businesses. A high-ranking NFL official attending Commissioner Roger Goodell's exclusive party at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, the Depot on Friday night reported that someone took her wallet, which contained her all-access credentials, a police report said.
Game attendees weren't immune, either. A Medford, Mass., man told police that he was walking through the concourse when another man stopped abruptly in front of him, distracting him while an accomplice fished his wallet out of his back pocket. The man told officers that the thieves took about $5,000 in cash.
Before the game, an Ohio man was walking to the stadium when a thief snatched his game ticket, which was hanging from a lanyard, and took off running, police said. Ticket agents printed the man a new ticket.
Police said that many of the cases may have been captured on surveillance cameras inside the stadium.
Another headache for police was people trying to slip into the game using fake credentials.
Law enforcement circulated photos of several well-known "gate-crashers" to officers before kickoff. By about halftime, at least three of the men had been arrested, according to police sources, either while trying to sneak into the stadium or once already inside.
Police say one of the men, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, a YouTube prankster with millions of social media followers, was booked into the Hennepin County jail on suspicion of obstructing justice for tussling with a federal agent after he was stopped at the gate.
Another internet-famous fraudster, David Aminzadeh, who has gained a reputation for sneaking into major sporting events, made it inside the stadium before he was kicked out by security, according to department sources.
Still, overall, the day went smoothly, according to a Minneapolis police spokeswoman.
No major incidents were reported, which officials attributed to the security operation, said to have been the largest and most complex in Minneapolis' history.
Police made at least one arrest inside the stadium, after a fight broke out on an upper floor.
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany