NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — For football fans, there’s nothing like game day Sunday.
“I got a bunch of them. Here’s an old Kevin Green jersey, Polamalu,” said North Carolina native Clay Dellinger as he sifted through his Pittsburgh jerseys.
The Steelers have always been his team, so when he saw the black and yellow would be playing the black and blue at Bank of America Stadium on December 18 last year, he knew he had to go.
As luck would have it, a friend of his knew someone selling excellent tickets at a rock-bottom price.
“I got an email from a friend that said that she could get tickets for the Panthers and Steelers game,” he said. “They were box tickets, box seats. Zelle’d her the money, and whoever she got the tickets through disappeared.”
A day or two before the game, the woman who coordinated the ticket sale discovered the man she thought she knew swindled the whole group.
“None of it was true,” Dellinger said. “It was a hoax from the beginning, I think.”
At $50 a ticket, Dellinger was out $100, but the man behind the transaction likely raked in a whole lot more.
“Honestly, I’m not sure how much money we’re talking,” said Gaston County Police Captain Billy Downey. He said the same man, now identified as Robert Malone, 50, sold 160 tickets to more than 40 victims in Gaston, Mecklenburg, and York Counties.
Malone currently has 11 warrants out for his arrest.
“We’ve had detectives go to addresses there for him in New Jersey. He’s not there,” he said. “We have another address he’s possibly at in Florida. We’ve checked. We’ve had our partners check there. So, at this point, we’ve not been able to locate him. So, we’re dependent now on the US Marshals to help track this gentleman down.”
Since last October, the woman who coordinated the ticket sale has started a group chat on Facebook to keep everyone updated on the case, sharing spreadsheets of who is owed what money and the suspect’s phone number, which was disconnected when Queen City News called.
“The person I went through has lost a lot of sleep and is afraid she’s lost a lot of friends,” Dellinger said, “and she’s been very upset.”
Dellinger did eventually buy another set of tickets to the game. He’s hoping his story will help authorities track down their suspect and help educate other fans on the importance of using reputable ticket services.
“It’s frustrating to know someone got over on you like that,” Dellinger said.