By Dave Savini and Michele Youngerman
CHICAGO (CBS) — There are new developments in a parking scam first exposed by the CBS 2 Investigators.READ MORE: Stores have too much stuff; Get ready for discounts
Conmen have been ripping off fans outside Chicago sports venues for years. Posing as parking attendants, they lure in drivers, take their cash, and often guide them into illegal parking spots. Those fans later find parking tickets from the city on their cars.
Nothing stopped the men we uncovered running an illegal parking scam – not even the different teams of officers patrolling the city streets outside Guaranteed Rate Field. The scammers are so bold they continued preying on White Sox fans – selling fraudulent parking passes last season, right in front of authorities.
Now one sports team, the Chicago White Sox, plans to take action to try to protect fans.
Jim Chessare is grateful to hear that after our October investigation struck a nerve.
“Your story kind of related to our exact situation,” said Chessare. “It was very disturbing at the time. The ease with which they got the 30 bucks out of us.”
Chessare says he fell for the scam last July, when he took his wife to a White Sox game for her birthday.
“My wife is a diehard Sox fan,” said Chessare, who is a diehard Chicago Cubs fan.
What happened to Chessare was a bit different from other schemes. As he approached the official White Sox parking lots, around Pershing Road and Princeton Avenue, several men wearing bright colored vests approached his car. They appeared to be parking attendants and asked Chessare for $30 to park.
“One of the three actually stood in front of our car and blocked us,” said Chessare. “The guy had a big wad of tens. A big wad of tens.”
He said one conman waved him in just like a legitimate parking attendant.
The CBS 2 Investigators went undercover multiple times over the years to show this scam repeatedly happening at different sports venues – including the United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks.
“You’re good, buddy,” said one conman as he took our money and gave us a fake parking pass.READ MORE: The CDC Has Identified 9 Cases Of Monkeypox in 7 States
Deena Mora got conned this same way, but outside Guaranteed Rate Field during the the Chicago White Sox versus Chicago Cubs Crosstown Classic. After unwittingly paying scammers to park, she then found a city parking ticket on her car after the game.
“Everyone got their ticket on their dashboard,” said Mora about the rows of cars with tickets.
On one day, we counted at least 60 illegal parking spots had been sold. The conmen charged $40 for each one, and then gave unsuspecting drivers illegal parking stickers to put in their windows. In less than an hour, the conmen collected about $2,400.
Chessare said after he was conned, he reported it to the Chicago White Sox and Chicago police.
“And the White Sox didn’t show any concern,” said Chessare. “And Chicago Police didn’t show a lot of concern either.”
Scott Reifert, vice president of communications for the Chicago White Sox, said the organization knows of others who lost money to these parking conmen.
“We have a guest relations department here that will deal with those folks,” said Reifert. “Again, disappointing to hear.”
Reifert went on to say, “I think frustration, right. I mean, we care a lot about our fans and our customers, and from the moment they leave their front door to the moment they get to the ballpark.”
We told him about one of the scammers using a Chicago White Sox sign to lure in victims.
“Disappointed,” responded Reifert. “Amazed, but then not amazed, at the extent some people will go to basically scam someone.”
Reifert says the White Sox can only control what happens on their property. But they do plan on removing all signs that currently say they accept cash to park. Only credit cards will be accepted when the season starts in April.
The other remaining issue is the crime being committed on the streets outside the ballpark. Last October, we asked police outside the ballpark, if they plan to do anything about the scammers operating right in the open. The officers just rolled up their windows and drove away.
The White Sox say they plan to work with Chicago police to stop them. Those discussions have yet to begin.MORE NEWS: Actor Ray Liotta, 'Goodfellas' Star, Is Dead At 67
Jim Chessare says the White Sox organization has invited them to another game.