Los Angeles: Despite efforts to keep people from profiting from Tuesday's public memorial service for Michael Jackson, scalpers online on Monday were asking as much as $9,000 per ticket to the free event.
Dozens of listings selling vouchers for Jackson tickets appeared on Monday on auction site eBay and Craigslist, the classified ads site, prompting complaints from Jackson fans and others who felt the sales were inappropriate.
"You people trying to sell these tickets should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves," said a Craigslist user in a post Monday morning. "Please flag all of these money-grabbing opportunists...if you're a true MJ fan you won't give money to these parasites."
Organizers of the public memorial service, scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles, made 8,750 pairs of tickets available through an online lottery. But demand far outstripped supply, as about 1.6 million fans registered for a chance at the tickets.
Winners received an e-mail on Sunday directing them to print vouchers and bring them on Monday to Dodgers Stadium, where they were to receive tickets and have a nonremovable wristband placed on their arms. Those entering the Staples Center on Tuesday must have wristbands to match their tickets.
But that didn't stop some people from trying to sell their vouchers to anyone who could make it to Dodgers Stadium by 7 pm on Monday.
One pair of tickets attracted a bid of $275,000 on eBay before the listing was removed. It was difficult to tell whether the offer was serious.
Both eBay and Craigslist took steps on Monday to thwart the ticket sellers.
"eBay will not allow Michael Jackson memorial service tickets to be listed on the site," the company said in a statement. "If found, eBay will remove them from the site immediately."
By Monday afternoon the number of listings for "Michael Jackson memorial tickets" on eBay had dropped to a handful, and the site was removing them shortly after they appeared.
Craigslist allows its users to flag ads they find inappropriate, and ads receiving enough negative flags are automatically removed from the site. Many ads proffering Jackson memorial tickets were removed shortly after they were posted on Monday.
Among those was a listing posted by a man who identified himself only as Peetey, 29, of Venice Beach, California. He was asking $8,000 for a single ticket; the winning bidder would accompany his girlfriend to the service, he said.
The ad was removed within 15 minutes, he said, but that was enough time for five people to call with interest.
When contacted by CNN, Peetey said he sees nothing wrong with selling a free ticket to a memorial service.
"We live in a capitalist society where money is what really speaks," he said. "I'm not trying to make a huge profit. I'm not trying to take advantage of anybody."
Peetey, who did not want his last name used for fear of backlash from Jackson fans, said he would go to the memorial service if he can't get at least $5,000 for the ticket. His girlfriend won the lottery-issued tickets, he said, and will attend the event.
"I want to go, and I have a large desire to go, but if I can get a lot of money, especially in this economic climate, it doesn't seem wise for me to sit there for two hours if I can get $10,000 for the ticket," he said.
Daniel Moreno, 33, of Murrieta, California, said people trying to sell the tickets are disgracing Jackson by trying to capitalizing on his death.
"That kind of sucks, you know. The guy's dead," said Moreno, who posted a statement on Craigslist vowing to flag any listings selling Jackson memorial tickets.
Moreno said those with tickets should give them away if they don't want to attend the service.
"I don't have $1,000 to spend on this ticket and wouldn't want to spend $1,000 on this ticket," he told CNN. "And I wouldn't want to be in the presence of someone who's trying to sell the ticket because I'd be arrested for battery."
By 2 pm (5 pm ET), organizers had handed out more 6,400 pairs of tickets.
Los Angeles police Capt. Bill Murphy said the distribution process was going smoothly as of early on Monday afternoon. One person tried to pass off a photocopied voucher and was ejected, Murphy said.
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