As the Vancouver Canucks head into Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, watchdogs and ticket sellers are warning fans about scam artists selling counterfeit tickets.

Playoff tickets are a hot commodity, and scam artists are looking to cash in on the red-hot demand by taking advantage of unwitting fans by selling counterfeit tickets or having buyers pay up front for tickets that never arrive, says the Better Business Bureau.

The scenario often emerges when there are a large number of people competing for a limited quantity of prized tickets, said Vancouver Canucks COO Victor De Bonis.

"There have been examples where families that have travelled hundreds of miles to come to a game, they get to the door and they can't get in because they don't have a legitimate authenticated ticket," he said.

Kingsley Bailey, a ticket broker for Vancouver Ticket Service, said he has seen people selling tickets that were two years old for another playoff season.

Bailey said it's really buyer beware when it comes to buying tickets from anywhere other than the box office or a recognized ticket resale agency.

"This is the perfect opportunity to make a quick buck. It's almost like you're never going to see the guy who rips you off. ‘Give me the money, I'll send you the tickets.' It's really, really scary," he said.

Online sites like Craigslist are fertile ground for scam artists who try to trick fans into wiring money for playoff tickets that don't exist or never arrive.

"People are trying to cash in and get people to contact them and potentially give out sensitive information. The big red flags are, of course, you never wire money to a stranger -- someone you don't know," said Mark Fernandes of the Better Business Bureau.

The only way fans can guarantee their tickets are legitimate is by buying direct from Ticketmaster, the Canucks website or a reputable ticket reseller with a guaranteed return policy.

Online marketplace Craigslist advises consumers to deal only with local sellers, never wire money and never give out banking information.

If possible, buy from someone you've dealt with before, or use brokers with a permanent office.

The BBB also recommends looking for reputable ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money back guarantees on the legitimacy of tickets.

If you're desperate to take in a playoff game, but the tickets are sold out, De Bonis has an insider tip:

"Every game there's held tickets that the NHL holds back -- and they start being released 48 hours before game time."

And if you're a fan who's determined to get a cut-rate deal on playoff tickets, Bailey offers some advice as a veteran ticket re-seller: "If the deal's too good to be true, it's too good to be true."

The Canucks say every year a handful of bogus tickets show up at the doors of Rogers Arena. A few years ago a Victoria scam artist resold the same pair of tickets 20 times and was never caught.

It isn't necessarily obvious if a hockey ticket is a fake or a reprint either. The playoff tickets are printed at the beginning of the season, before the dates are known -- so the playoff tickets don't actually have the date or team info on them.

The bottom line is that if you know playoff tickets are going for $600 or $700 apiece, someone who is offering you tickets at a deep discount may not be the real deal.

Watch tonight's full report from Lynda Steele for advice on how to avoid being scammed by bogus hockey tickets…