Scammers using Houston institution as hook

February 16, 2010 4:47:01 PM PST
You've seen emails claiming to be from your bank, your credit card company and even the IRS. Now, fake emails appear to be using the name of a real Houston institution. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo can add its name to the big name companies targeted by scammers.

Workers are still building the food court for the 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but apparently it is not too early for someone to use the Rodeo's good name in a bad way. An email claiming to be from the webmaster of Houston Rodeo Tickets and Livestock Show websites is landing in email inboxes right now.

"It is very obvious someone is phishing, trying to get links off of business web sites here in Houston," said Leroy Shafer with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The sender wants to partner with companies to sell Rodeo concert tickets, but there's a problem.

"If the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo wants to partner with you, we will call you or get in touch with you," said Shafer. "We are not going to send you a phishing web site."

The email does have some red flags that should make it obvious that it is not actually from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. For instance, it is sent from a Gmail account. The Rodeo does not use the free email service to send messages to anyone.

"If you take a look at this one, there are a lot of misspellings," said Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau. "The way things are worded in here, it just does not sound right."

Russo says the Rodeo email also asks for Pay Pal account information and that can lead to real trouble.

"They are looking to get account information and they will use it in any way they can to access ways to get money," said Russo.

Rodeo officials say they've seen plenty of rodeo tickets being resold online at a half dozen web sites that sound like they are affiliated with the Rodeo when they are not. Rodeo officials also say those sites are hiking up the prices of $16 tickets for shows that are not even sold out yet.

"They are selling those tickets for two or three times that value," said Shafer.

There is an official Rodeo ticket selling site. You can still get face value seats for many of the shows by going to