21 July 2016

Beware of sports ticket fraud this summer

This summer is set to be another great one for sports fans, with highlights including the Olympics Games and Paralympic Games.

But if you’re one of thousands of eager fans hunting for last–minute tickets, it’s best to be wary of unsportsmanlike scammers who have no intention of delivering the goods.

Cyber-savvy 20-somethings aren’t immune

Online ticket fraud is an escalating problem – incidents rose by 55% in 2015 according to recent figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Get Safe Online. Sports events like the Rugby World Cup and Premier League football matches accounted for over a quarter of all incidents.

People aged 20–29 are actually most at risk of buying fake or non–existent tickets, the findings reveal. And social media channels are ideal marketplaces for fraudsters – 21% of ticket fraud crimes used Facebook and 6% used Twitter.

The fact that this digital demographic are most likely to fall victim is concerning to Commander Chris Greany, National Police Lead for Economic Crime. ‘It suggests that the fraudulent ticket sellers are very convincing and have the ability to exploit just about every type of internet user,’ he said.

Olympic sports phishing

Apart from flogging tickets or travel packages that don’t exist, online gangs have been ‘phishing’ by exploiting sports fans’ eagerness to get to the Rio Olympics.

Cybersecurity software provider Kaspersky Lab says it has detected spam emails about fake lottery wins for the official ticket lottery organised by the International Olympic Committee and the Brazilian government. Victims are told they have been randomly chosen, and are asked to part with sensitive personal information to receive their prize.

How you can get caught out

  • Buying tickets, travel packages or merchandise that don’t exist from fake websites
  • Buying non–existent tickets from other fans via fan forums and social media
  • Buying tickets that don’t match the description, or that cannot be legally resold
  • Card fraud due to making payment over unsecured web pages
  • Parting with money or personal information due to spam email.

How to call time on ticket fraudsters

  1. Only buy tickets from the venue, promoter, official agent or a well–known ticket exchange website. 
  2. Ensure the website is genuine and secure before entering payment details.
  3. Double check all the details of your ticket purchase before confirming payment.
  4. If you’re buying tickets from an individual, don’t transfer money into their bank account – pay them in person, or use a service such as PayPal.
  5. It’s disappointing to miss out on tickets to the big game, but imagine how much worse it would be to pay a premium for tickets that don’t show up or aren’t valid. In the UK it’s also illegal to re–sell football tickets to a designated match (unless it’s through a seller authorised by your club). So if you weren’t lucky first time, it’s best to stick to official sites.
  6. Ignore potential spam and ‘phishing’ emails offering you a ticket lottery win or similar. Learn more about phishing.
  7. Check your credit card and bank statements carefully after your ticket purchase to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction.
  8. If you spot a ticket scam or fall victim to one, report it to ActionFraud immediately.

Paying by credit card can provide protection

Using your credit card to pay is another top tip. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, in certain circumstances your credit card can give you free protection if your purchase is faulty, not as you expected or doesn’t arrive – provided that the price of a single ticket is over £100. However, Section 75 protection generally only applies to the account holder, so if you're going with friends you should each book your own ticket on your own credit card. Read more about Section 75.

You may also be able to resort to chargeback. This scheme lets you ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card.

Credit cards are available to those aged 18 or over (UK residents only), are subject to circumstances and a minimum income of £5,000 per year.

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