Beware when buying World Cup tickets PDF Print E-mail
Soccer fans are being scammed left, right and centre by a variety of cyber criminals when attempting to purchase tickets for this year's World Cup.

According to reports, thousands of fake or bogus tickets for the tournament are being sold on various unauthorised Web sites.

This has also affected big organisations around the world, such as the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), which lost close to R2 million to con artists in a scam involving online ticket purchases. BTC fell victim to a dummy corporation, which ran an Internet scam that purportedly sold tickets for the tournament.

BTC says it purchased the tickets from a company based in the Caribbean Islands, with the objective of using them for its local promotions. “However, since transferring the funds, we have not received any acknowledgement of receipt from the company,” BTC adds.

The Botswana Police confirmed they are investigating a case in which BTC might have been swindled of millions of rands in a World Cup ticket scam. Police informed the media that they have consulted Interpol to assist with investigations.

Fake e-mails

Fifa says, while genuine tickets are sold online exclusively via its official Web site, unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of the great appeal of this event by trying to use the Internet to sell tickets they do not possess.

Fifa and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) continue to be alerted to e-mails and SMSes, fraudulently claiming to be associated or linked with Fifa. In these e-mails, the 2010 Fifa World Cup authorities and the LOC supposedly inform recipients they have been selected as prize-winners in a lottery draw and have won substantial sums of money or tickets.

“Many of these messages appear to be official and most of them ask recipients to provide their personal details, including bank account information, in order to claim the prize money,” says Fifa.

Such scam e-mails try to persuade the receiver to submit personal information, or to part with money as an up-front payment in order to release a prize, Fifa points out.

Global combat

“Fifa strongly advises the public to treat any e-mails concerning lottery draws or cash prizes with suspicion and extreme caution. It also urges people not to provide any personal or financial details if requested to do so. These lotteries have no connection with or authorisation from Fifa, and are in no way related to the 2010 Fifa World Cup SA,” Fifa reiterates.

The organisation has embarked on numerous initiatives, including working with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Sport and Recreation, South African Police Service, South African Receiver of Revenue and other government departments to address problems posed by unauthorised ticket sales.

“We are also conducting consumer awareness campaigns and notifying consumer protection agencies and authorities worldwide to solicit their assistance in protecting consumers in their respective jurisdictions,” Fifa explains.

The organisation has also embarked on investigations and is pursuing legal action. “A special team from Fifa`s legal affairs division is working closely with international authorities to monitor the Internet for such illegal offers and to take action to combat them,” it adds.

Through the anti-ticket-touting provisions, numerous Web sites that advertise the sale of tickets that are either illegitimate or non-existent have been shut down already. To date, Fifa has identified approximately 100 violating Web sites globally, with the majority – approximately 32% ? based in the US, 15% in the UK and 15% in SA.

Other organisations, like security solutions vendor Symantec, say they will also be on guard for malicious activity on the Internet relating to the tournament, in an effort to keep soccer fans and the companies they work for safe.

In February, Symantec unveiled the 2010 NetThreat site, which provides data, commentary, safety tips and useful links for football fans going online.

Legitimate sales

Match Event Services has been commissioned by Fifa to manage the ticketing operation for the World Cup. The primary global distribution platform is online via Fifa`s official Web site. In SA, people can also apply at First National Bank branches across the country.

Fifa says it has established rules with regard to the purchase, distribution and use of the tickets for the event. It says any reselling of tickets is not allowed.

According to Fifa, its legal department is working closely with Match Event Services and the respective authorities and law enforcement entities around the world to combat illegal or fraudulent sale of 2010 tickets. This includes tight monitoring of online platforms.

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