We've all heard the stories about eager entrepreneurs scooping up the choice tickets for an event and then reselling them for ridiculous profits. Maybe you've turned to one of these folks in your desperation to get a good seat at the upcoming football game or Bon Jovi concert. Maybe you've been one of those folks.

But when these opportunistic resellers gobble up tickets that were meant to be free to the public and then charge up to $500 apiece, is that going too far?

WalletPop reports that the city of Boston was distributing free tickets to skate on a rink erected at Fenway Park for the Jan. 1 outdoor hockey game between the hometown Bruins and the Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) co-owned Philadelphia Flyers. The rink will be available to the public for skating on Jan. 3 and Jan. 10, and the city distributed tickets on a first-come basis through schools and libraries.

But lined up for tickets, along with the kids who never get a chance to visit frequently sold-out Fenway, were known scalpers who saw visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads. Lots of hopeful residents went home without any Christmas cheer, while the free tickets resurfaced on the likes of Craigslist and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) for as much as $500 each. "No sob stories please," wrote one joyous soul asking $1,800 for a set of four tickets. Ho-ho-ho to you, too.

Ticketing services such as Ticketmaster (NASDAQ:TKTM) and Live Nation (NYSE:LYV) have put CAPTCHA technology in place to try to prevent scalpers from using automated software to snatch event tickets ahead of the rest of the public. But when you're standing in line trying to get a free ticket, there's not much anyone can do -- except grumble about the lack of Christmas spirit among those who would rather receive than give.

What's your take, Fools? Is this Scrooge-like greed at its ugliest, or just an example of the free market at work? Light up the comments box below, and the Fool will donate $0.10 for each comment to the Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C., in furtherance of financial literacy. Now that's keeping in the Christmas spirit.

Fool online editor Adrian Rush always figured the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come could get a job as a goth rocker, if the scaring-cranky-old-men thing didn't work out. He has no position in any of the stocks mentioned here. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread on eBay, which is also a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy has its stockings hung by the chimney with care.