A simple but effective ticket scalping scheme was brought to a halt by Watsonville police on Thursday.
Over the span of six to eight months, Nerida Rodriguez, a Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk employee, collected tickets at rides, and instead of tearing them in half and handing the stub back to the customer, kept the whole ticket to resell later, Watsonville police told Patch.
She recently created a Craigslist post advertising the ride tickets either for sale ($1 apiece) or as a "trade for 420," police said. "420" is a term used to refer to the use of marijuana and a way to identify oneself with the subculture.
Watsonville detectives caught Rodriguez Thursday afternoon after responding to the ad and meeting her in a shopping center parking lot. They negotiated the price down to 80¢ per ticket, then bought $150 in tickets from Rodriguez before identifying themselves as detectives, police said.
Rodriguez then forked over the rest of the tickets she had on hand — over 3,000 — and was released. She was not arrested or cited on scene because she was compliant, but according to police, the case is being forwarded to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office, and a warrant will be issued.
Boardwalk Spokesman Kris Reyes told Patch that Rodriguez has not been employed by the park since 2010, and that the Boardwalk was aware of the situation before she was caught on Thursday.
"There's not an amusement park in the world that hasn't dealt with ticket fraud whether it's internal or external," Reyes said. "It's one of the downsides of the business."
Reyes said the Boardwalk takes various measures to try to avoid employees running operations like the one Rodriguez was attempting, but noted that "nothing is fool proof or 100 percent effective."
"Doing it on the Internet is just a dumb thing to do," Reyes said. "It's the easiest way to get caught."
And that's exactly what happened. For now, Rodriguez's carnival con has effectively been shut down. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Craigslist post has been deleted and the mountain of ride tickets is in police custody.