Hundreds Of Jane's Fans Fall Victim To Counterfeiters

New York district attorney is looking into allegedly 'sophisticated' scheme to sell fake tickets.

NEW YORK -- Croatian native Denis Raketic thought it would be the

best night of his life. Or close to it.

It was Halloween -- his 24th birthday -- and his "absolute favorite band ever,"

Jane's Addiction, was opening the heralded I-Itz M’My Party reunion tour across

the Hudson River in New York City.

Raketic, of Bound Brook, N.J., had found a ticket broker with a pair of tickets for

the band's Halloween performance, the second of two at the Hammerstein

Ballroom. And $250 later, Raketic, who is currently employed as a delivery

person, managed to scrape enough cash together to fly his girlfriend, Croatian

resident Sanja Martic, over for the show.

For Raketic, who left his homeland five years ago to escape civil war there but

maintained a close relationship and common love of Jane's with his girlfriend,

the makings of a picture-perfect rock 'n' roll fairy tale were set .

Or so he thought.

"When we got to the door and they told us we couldn't go in, I thought it was a

joke," said Raketic, who has never seen Jane's Addiction perform live. "There

were people crying, there were people who were outraged. Some screamed to

the security people and asked if the band was aware of this. Me... I was

absolutely shocked."

Raketic and his girlfriend were two of almost 300 Jane's Addiction fans

who fell victim to an elaborate counterfeiting scheme that took place at the

Jane's inaugural "relapse" performances in New York City last week, according

to event promoters. The scheme, according to Jane's publicist Heidi Robinson,

involved what appear to be highly sophisticated counterfeit tickets which were

sold for the second-day performance.

"Hundreds of fans had tickets to the show, but they weren't allowed in,"

Robinson said. Once security officials with Metropolitan Entertainment (which

books the Hammerstein) and police officers realized the venue was full to

capacity, 300 fans, many of whom were holding authentic tickets, were denied

admission, Robinson said.

Metropolitan Entertainment CEO John Scher said that the high-tech scheme is

the most sophisticated counterfeiting plot he's seen in 20 years of concert

promotion. A complaint -- which names one suspected counterfeit scalper -- has

been filed with the New York City District Attorney's office, according to

Metropolitan publicist Suzy Arons, who said the DA is working with the police

department in the investigation.

Metropolitan Entertainment is also working with TicketMaster and "appropriate

law enforcement agencies" in an attempt to break the counterfeiting ring,

Arons said.

Raketic, who has a receipt from the ticket broker, a Select-A-Ticket outlet in

Bridgewater, N.J., said representatives at the brokerage have told him that the

Hammerstein Ballroom and Metropolitan Entertainment, which produced the

show, are responsible to ticketholders who failed to gain access to the show.

Adding to the confusion over the tickets, Lance Patania, vice-president for the

Riverdale, N.J.-based Select-A-Ticket, said the show was overbooked. "If tickets

are available, we sell them," Patania said. "We do not sell counterfeit tickets,

though. I cannot help it if Metropolitan overbooked the show -- that's something

they need to take care of for the future."

But Metropolitan Entertainment denied too many tickets were sold.

"Metropolitan Entertainment is not in the business of over-booking concerts,"

Arons said. "...We cannot overbook -- the police shut admission down at 10:50

p. m. because the venue was at capacity. We risk our ability to do shows by

overbooking. That's our business. If we get shut down, we don't have a

business."

More than 200 counterfeit tickets have been confiscated since last Friday night,

ranging from poor replicas to those which appear genuine. The problem, Arons

said, is ticket brokers -- the ones who are legit and the ones that aren't - get

taken for counterfeit tickets. Promoters encourage concertgoers to buy tickets

through the box office or contracted companies such as TicketMaster, she said.

"That Croatian couple, and other ticket buyers -- they're the ones who get hurt,"

Arons said.

Anyone holding a valid ticket who was not admitted to the show can return to

their point of purchase for a full refund, she added.

However, despite being locked out from seeing their favorite band in concert,

Raketic and Martic's transcontinental rock 'n' roll fairy tale may happen afterall.

Jane's leader Perry Farrell has personally invited them to be the band's special

guests this weekend when Jane's Addiction makes its first network television

appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Afterwards, they'll be escorted backstage to meet the band as well, Robinson

said.

"I told Perry about it, and he felt completely awful," she said. "I mean, this girl

flew thousands of miles just to see Jane's Addiction. And she didn't get

to go."

In the end, the trip will not have been in vain. In fact, despite all the hassles, it

couldn't have worked out any better, Mactic said.

"Before the war my brother started listening to Jane's Addiction," she said. "So I

started listening, and I was blown away by what I heard... We got a good break

now, and I can't even explain to you how excited and honored I am."

[Thur., Nov. 6, 1997, 5 p.m. PST]