Disney Bib Scammer Targets Princess Half Marathon Weekend

17
48551

On Saturday, this message appeared in a Facebook Group for Disney Princess Runners.

This story had a very familiar ring to it. The most well known instance of bib stealing happened at Disneyland in 2017. Someone picked up a runner’s bib. The end result was the fraudulent runner was handcuffed at the finish line.

What we discovered was that the runner’s 5k bib was picked up as well as the challenge bib. The Challenge bib was good for both the 10k and half marathon. In addition to that, the rest of the family ran with copied bibs during the 5k and 10k.

Mom, dad, brother and sister ran the 5k. Mom, dad and brother ran the 10k. In total, they were wearing approximately $1400 worth of bibs. Two of the bibs were stolen, and the rest were copies.

The bibs that they wore on Saturday could also be used for Sunday’s Half Marathon. I forwarded the information, and Run Disney officials were notified. They were on the lookout for these bibs and planned to nab the runners in the corrals prior to the start of the race.

When it became apparent that the runners did not show up for the race, I initiated contact with the mom. She was identified through photographs from Saturday’s 10k.

The Transaction

Mom told me that she had asked for entries to the races for Valentine’s Day. Having waited too long to buy through Disney, her husband put an ad up on marathonguide.com

He quickly received a response from someone that identified himself as ‘Dave’. Dave said he had a bib available.

According to the couple, they bought all seven bibs from Dave for a total of $775. The face value of the bibs was approximately $1400. I have learned that it is not unusual for charities and travel agents to sell discounted bibs at the last minute for Disney events. Dave, however did not represent a charity or a travel agency.

Mom was suspicious of the bibs right away. She saw the one bib had a name on it. When I asked, she confirmed the other bibs, the ones without the names, were different – they were shinier, and had no timing chips.

In my opinion, they knew these weren’t legitimate bibs, but ran with them anyways. Their justification was likely that they spent $775. Her husband bought these as a Valentines Day gift for the family.

A Realization

Mom saw the post made by the rightful bib owner. Only one of the Challenge bibs had a name on it. The name was the same as the woman that posted that someone had stolen her bib.

After seeing the Facebook post, she had the realization that the bib was actually stolen and not a transferred bib. The next morning the family went to Epcot with their bibs, and summoned the police in order to file a report that they were sold the stolen and forged bibs.

The Seller

I emailed the seller. I simply asked how he obtained the bibs that he sold. To my surprise, he replied.

Hello Dave,

I am emailing in the hope that you can tell me how you obtained the bibs that you were attempting to sell for Princess Weekend.

Derek Murphy
Marathon Investigation

He replied:

I don’t feel that is any concern of yours!!!

It is alleged that you sold two stolen bibs as well as some forged bibs. I am giving you an opportunity to refute those allegations.

How did you get this information? Those people get what they paid for! And I’m tired of run disney taking advantage.  Stop emailing me

No they didn’t. They did not run today. Run Disney was going to pull them from the corrals. The original owner posted that her bib was stolen.

If people are not buying directly from disney then that’s the risk they take! I don’t feel bad for anyone. Those bibs were not being used anyway!

He asked which bibs I was referring to: I then asked how many bibs did he sell?

I don’t keep count!

The seller was completely unapologetic. It was also clear that he was monitoring the Princess Facebook group. He knew the stolen bib was not being used. He picked that bib thinking the original owner would never know. He was wrong. It is also clear that he sold bibs to more than just this one family.

MarathonGuide.com

I’ve written about The Marathonguide Bulletin Boards before. Nearly all the classifieds are people looking to buy or sell bibs that are non transferable. In this case, stolen bibs were sold through the platform. It is baffling that MarathonGuide refuses to do anything about this. They don’t charge money for these advertisements.

I cannot believe that the buy/sell section is a huge driver of traffic. In my opinion, MarathonGuide needs to do the right thing for the industry and shut down that section of their site, or crack down on the ads for illegal bibs.

This family says that they bought bibs through Marathonguide in the past.

They say they thought they were legitimate charity bibs that were being sold last minute at a discount. The reality is, those were not legitimate transfers either. I have a hard time believing that the buyers were this naive.

The bibs were not in their names. The buyers are not in the race results, they never had to sign a waiver, and they did not pick the bibs up through official channels.

Summary

Never, ever buy a bib on the black market. Make sure that any bib you purchase is legitimate. If there is an official transfer policy, make sure it is followed. In this case, had the family attempted to run the race, they would have all been pulled by Disney security, and possibly could have faced charges.

I do have a hard time believing the family was completely innocent in this instance. They have bought bibs in the past. I think they knew they were breaking the rules for awhile by purchasing bibs in this manner.

When she saw the Facebook post, the mom came to the realization that they were about to be caught and possibly outed.

However, when she knew the bib was actually stolen, they did the right thing and went to The police. While I question their prior intentions, I commend them for finally taking the appropriate actions, no matter their motivation.

Support Marathon Investigation

Thank you to all that have contributed to Marathon Investigation. Your contributions are what enables me to continue the work of Marathon Investigation. To support the site, please consider making a small contribution.

 

One-Time Contribution


Don’t want to use PayPal? Click below to contribute without going through PayPal.

17 COMMENTS

  1. More great investigative work here! Thanks again Derek as all the information you provided RunDisney was a valuable part of their own investigation! The issue with MarathonGuide.com has been a problem for many years. It would appear that they have little regard for the organizations that create the events “served” by the website. I have doubts about the purchasers story and would like to know more about how her husband ended up witba forged/copied bib. They have enough previous Disney race experience to not have known the His Fairy Tale Challenge bib was bogus when there was no timing data on the reverse.

  2. Bulletin Boards
    Bulletin Boards -> Wanted: To Buy or Sell -> Wanted: 2019 Boston Bib
    Message Category: Wanted: To Buy or Sell
    Topic:
    From:
    Date:
    Wanted: 2019 Boston Bib
    J
    2/22/19 11:59:52 PM ET
    I’ll pay handsomly for a 2019 Boston Bib plus postage to NYC.

    Post a reply on the Bulletin Board

    Message thread:
    Wanted: 2019 Boston Bib – [J 2/22/19 11:59:52 PM ET]
    Back to Bulletin Boards Main Page

  3. Bulletin Boards
    Bulletin Boards -> Wanted: To Buy or Sell -> Wanted: 2019 Boston Bib
    Message Category: Wanted: To Buy or Sell
    Topic:
    From:
    Date:
    Wanted: 2019 Boston Bib
    J
    2/22/19 11:59:52 PM ET
    I’ll pay handsomly for a 2019 Boston Bib plus postage to NYC.

    Post a reply on the Bulletin Board

    Message thread:
    Wanted: 2019 Boston Bib – [J 2/22/19 11:59:52 PM ET]
    Back to Bulletin Boards Main Page

    (Not my ad!!! Copied from Marathonguide.com wanted section)

  4. Derek, were you, or the authorities, able to identify the seller? Obviously, the original ad may have only had a “burn” e-mail or phone number, but the buyers must have made some arrangement for funds transfer (cash/ traveler’s check/ Western Union only?). It almost sounds like this guy is actually an employee of RunDisney with access to the bibs. (Maybe this is how Patty Pan got her bibs.) Good work, as always, looking forward to an update.

  5. The illegality of bib transfers is lost on the casual runners.

    I am a police chief. Last week, I was talking to the local head of a nationwide charitable foundation.

    The talk turned to running. She said she was not going to be able to run a local (sold out by popular demand) 10K and offered to give me her bib.

    When I was explained to her how this was wrong, she was certainly surprised.

    • Yup. While most runners might realize that selling their bids is wrong, giving one away (especially to a policeman) just seems like a nice thing to do.

      It seems like smaller races are doing a better job of reminding runners of their policies when you sign up. Their policies are written in simple, non-threatening language that helps runners understand why they have limits on cancellations, deferments, or transfers.

      The bigger races post pages of Terms and Conditions that nobody bothers to read. We all just hit OK and proceed to checkout.

  6. So, what I cannot wrap my head around is how someone not the bib “owner” picks them up? When I have gone to pick up my runDisney bibs they spend a good minute checking my ID to everything. Also, when you do a two course challenge, it’s my understanding they take your picture so, after the half, they can verify that YOU ran the race in order to get the challenge medal. How did this family think it was going to play out when three people tried to pick up the medal for one bib?

    • I’m sure that RunDisney uses temporary workers (led by a full-time staffer) or volunteers to work at their expos handing out bibs. They are probably working the expo for 8+ hours a day at something like $8.75 to $10.50 per hour or, in the case of volunteers, for free.

      It wouldn’t be hard to make a connection with someone working PPU at the expo or working on the set up crew, slip them $200 and get a stack of bibs under the table and then sell them online for potentially thousands of dollars and, thereby, passing through the ID requirement for picking up a bib.

      • RunDisney in California used to use volunteers. We would “apply” and sign up for 2 shifts of a minimum of 5 hours each. Our “pay” was a ticket into Disneyland. You got one ticket for each race you worked (2 shifts).

        A couple years ago, they decided to go to a paid agency so you had to apply to this temp agency to work and you got minimum wage. When they did this, they got rid of the people who love to race for the race and who loved to run (many volunteers actually ran the race they were volunteering at) as your volunteers and now you have every person off the street who just needed some money so you basically took away your running volunteers. BTW: it wasn’t because they lacked volunteers. It was hard to get a spot to work a Disney race. You had to be on your computer the minute they released the volunteer shifts to get in.

        I don’t know why they changed it. They treated us volunteers really well and I did it because it was fun and the ticket to Disneyland had an expiration date way into the future so I would volunteer 2 races and hubby and I got to spend the day at Disneyland or California Adventure. I enjoyed volunteering and seeing who came from how far. By going to the hired/paid, it seems they set themselves up for inside stuff whereas before the volunteers were runners who cared.

        Now I don’t know how Florida does it but that’s how the West Coast did it.

        • I understand that California does not allow for-profit organizations to rely on volunteers for Labor, which is why runDisney had to change in CA.

  7. I think you’re right here, Derek, in that the family most likely had at least a suspicion that the bibs were fake, but participated in the races because they already dropped $775 on the bibs. I can’t say I blame them for that as I can imagine a lot of runners possibly doing the same thing.

    I’m wondering if the bibs that didn’t have the chip on them were copies or if they were extra bibs that the event had ordered, but hadn’t affixed the timing chip yet, as reserves for potentially lost bibs/additional bibs/etc.

    Having worked hundreds of races as an RD and as a timer, we would often bring extra bibs and timing chips (separately, so the chip was not affixed to the bib yet) to an event in case someone forgot their bib, lost their bib, or if we had an influx of race day registrations. We didn’t affix the timing chip to the bib yet because we only charged the fee for the chips that were affixed to bibs. This was especially important when dealing with custom bibs, as the RunDisney races have.

    I bring that up to say: I can imagine that the person who sold the bibs could have had access (either personally or by an associate) to the extra bibs that RunDisney had ordered, but had not yet tagged with timing chips. They could have then sold these to participants who would be none the wiser, except for their possible suspicious based on the absence of a timing chip.

    All that to say: I can’t necessarily hold this against the family, even as much as I don’t agree with or like the idea of people buying bibs on the black market. Whoever sold the bibs, however, should be slapped across the face with a frozen salmon.

    • Derek mentioned that some of the bibs had chips, and some were on different paper. Sounds like the illegal seller scanned the original and then made some Photoshop edits to the numbers before printing the rest.

      Also, it was implied that this guy knew the name and bib number of the woman who posted ahead of time that she wasn’t going to be able to run. So, obviously he targeted hers at packet pick up. Who knows at this point how he snagged it. Bribe? Snatch? Send in a woman who just says she left her ID in her car? Doesn’t really matter, except that Disney seems to get hit by this too often; it will continue until they see a financial incentive to fix it.

      • We hear about the “big” cases like this one and Patty Pan, but out of all the bibs sold, how many are sold via black market? And how many of these black market sales involve theft? In cases like this, with the evidence that Derek has compiled, you’d hope that runDisney would work with the police to find the seller and press charges (pretty sure this case would be Third Degree Grand Theft – Felony in FL). If this is really widespread (especially though theft vs. reselling a purchased bib), you’d think runDisney would monitor sites like MarathonGuide.com and run a sting on the bib sellers.

        • They are probably more concerned with the black market for fake tickets to their theme parks.

          And by the way, if I paid $$$ for park tix from somebody at my hotel or near the parks and then realized they might he fake, I’d be reeeealllly tempted to try to use them anyway. (I wish I could say otherwise. Who knows what I’d really do after losing that much money.) So, I can sympathize with the family who used the bibs the first 2 times. A little bit anyway.

          Bottom line: just another example of why men hate Valentine’s Day, and why women should just buy the presents themselves if they want something specific since us guys will screw it up like this.
          🙂

          • Ya, we women put too much pressure on you guys 😉 Seriously. Years ago, hubby and I started a See’s Candy tradition and for 28 years this is what we do and we love it. No stress and neither of us has to work hard. Lol!

            On the flip side, if this was something she really, really wanted to do, I heard that there were available bibs for purchase on Valentines Day (and thereafter) and also, she could have told him this is what she wanted to do, purchased them early, told him this is what you are giving me for Valentine’s Day and his life would have been made easy that year. Fault can go all around to both the husband and wife on this one IMO. Just buy the stuff, say “this is what you got me” and call it done. Oh, sorry, that’s not romantic apparently (insert eyeroll here). People need to watch way fewer chick flicks and live life. Lol!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here