Don’t get bamboozled by imposter Birmingham Hot Air Balloon event

Fake hot-air balloon festival

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you were among those hoping to see hot air balloons over the skies over Birmingham in a couple weeks, we are here to dash your high-flying hopes.

Facebook events might not be what they seem and this particular ruse quickly burst upon closer inspection.

“It’s quite easy to piggyback on the excitement around those things, which is what we see here and what we’ve seen in the past with color runs and fun runs and functions of the sort,” explained Garet Smitherman, VP of Operations at the Better Business Bureau in Birmingham about the balloon event. Say that three times fast.

At one point, there were plans to have a balloon rally in Birmingham, but the pandemic grounded them.

Jeremy Kwaterski, owner of Hot Air Balloon Management, says anyone who purchased tickets to the original event was refunded.

“There’s a fake one out there, it’s not ours,” Kwaterski said of the Facebook event for a Birmingham Hot Air Balloon festival.

The Facebook event has a whopping 36,000 people interested, but it doesn’t look quite right.

“The first thing we both saw was that the primary page was managed by someone in Bangladesh,” Smitherman said, who dug a little deeper into the ad.

If that’s not enough to take the wind out of your sails, it’s supposedly hosted at Birmingham Race Course. But Birmingham Race Course folks say that’s not true and the event is not happening there in May.

“You know if the location doesn’t have anything on their calendar, that should be a big tip,” said Smitherman.

There’s no telling if the suspect ticket links hoodwinked any balloon enthusiasts, but I messaged who appeared to be a promoter, who offered me tickets via PayPal.

“If they are limiting payment options to PayPal, Venmo, giftcards where you have to read the numbers off the back, all red flags,” said Smitherman.

Birmingham City Officials had never heard of the balloon bonanza either and didn’t issue a permit for it. They said it is on private land, but again the Birmingham Race Course is not holding the event.

Further proof the event is full of hot air.

If you ever see an event you want tickets to, do your research first and only ever use a credit card to buy them.

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