Online thieves are using the lure of tickets to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to rip off the identities of consumers, officials said.

The thieves have been sending unsolicited e-mails asking people to send them personal information, verify financial information or wire money to a third party for tickets to the show, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

The show, taped in Chicago, does not sell tickets. It takes reservations to attend tapings for free.

Madigan's office could not say how widespread the messages had reached.

"With the large number of Oprah's fans worldwide, we are concerned that their excitement at the opportunity to attend a taping of her TV show may result in fans responding to this unauthorized offer," Madigan warned Tuesday in a news release.

The e-mails were reported to the state by lawyers with Oprah's Harpo Productions Inc., Madigan spokeswoman Cara Smith said Wednesday.

"The goal with this alert is to not have any victims, because once consumers respond to this or send money, it's very, very difficult to make them whole," Smith said.