Real or Fake? Questions Over Taco Fest in Chicago Prompt Warning From Watchdog Group

Before the Facebook event page vanished, it claimed nearly 1,000 people were attending and had purchased tickets

Officials are warning residents about a festival slated to take place in Chicago this weekend after concerns over whether the event is real or fake. 

The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois put out an alert over Taco Fest Chicago, which the group says "appears to be a fake festival scheduled this weekend in downtown." 

Taco Fest Chicago is slated to start this Saturday, but its Facebook event page appears to have been deleted and its website only offers stock images and scant details.

Before the Facebook event page vanished, it claimed nearly 1,000 people were attending and had purchased tickets. According to its website, the event was to be hosted by Fanoomies Entertainment, which boasts a California address.

"BBB's attempts to contact the event holders have gone unanswered," the group said in their alert. "No precise location for the event was ever announced, and officials at the City of Chicago, which permits events, have no records of the event."

Fanoomies did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from NBC 5.

The “Buy Tickets” link on Fanoomies website leads users to something called the Anastasia Group’s MyShopify page which offers no details and appears to be a blank template.

“A representative from Shopify said the company could not confirm or deny whether the Anatasiagroup or Fanoomies even used its platform, and suggested concerned people should use social media to try to get in touch with those companies,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

The representative was alerted the festival might be fake, the newspaper said.

The Fanoomies website also has peculiar suggestions for a street food festival such as a dress code including “no shorts or sunglasses.”

It also says parking is available on site “however space is limited.”

Where the “site” is remains a mystery.

But the BBB said fake summer festivals aren't uncommon during this time of year.

"Sadly, fake festivals and events, as well as phony ticket sales have become a part of the summer strategy for scammers," the group's president and CEO, Steve Bernas, said in a statement. "We urge people to fully check out events before making any purchase because consumers risk losing money, and in some cases handing over credit card and other personal information to scammers."

What can you do spot a fake festival scam? Here are the BBB's tips:

  • Always fully research event web sites before purchasing. Make sure there is full disclosure of exact location and contact information. Scammers often use names that sound similar to those of real festivals. 
  • Check for (working) contact information: Be sure the festival website has a phone number and email address.
  • If you have doubts, Google the name of the festival with the word "scam" after it and see if anything comes up.
  • Pay with a credit card: You can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through. Be wary of online sellers that don't accept credit cards. 
  • Look for secure sites: The website should begin with https (the extra "s" is for secure) and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.
  • Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist and other free online listings: Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out third-party ticket sites at before making purchases.
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