All of the people in the world can basically be split into two groups. The first group consists of soccer (aka football) -crazed fans, to whom the sport is just as critical to survival as air and water. And then there is the other group of people who don’t even know that soccer (yeah, yeah — football) exists outside of middle school afternoon practice sessions.
Even if you fall into the latter group, you’re probably at least mildly aware that the former group is experiencing World Cup Nirvana, as the 2018 games are currently unfolding in Russia. As opposed to the Super Bowl or NBA Championships which take place annually, the World Cup only happens every four years. That means when it does take place, it’s HUGE, and accordingly, the fans go crazy. Crazed fans translate into fans who’ll do anything and moreover, believe anything, to get their hands on tickets.
And where there are crazed, gullible fans, there are scammers.
Context-based phishing scams
The World Cup, the Olympics, major holidays and other widely hyped events are often the basis of context-based phishing scams. Attackers know that when emotions run high, people are far more likely to act without thinking. They’ll click, open and buy things they would never dream of in their more rational state. This is why it should come as no surprise that sporting events and the like make perfect fodder for attackers and scammers looking to take advantage of aficionados in their less than the well-thought-out frame of mind.
This time is no different; it seems that every day a new World Cup scam surfaces, even as the games progress. For example, fake World Cup tickets scams are so rampant, that it’s almost become a rite of passage that attendees and wanna-be attendees must navigate through. But it doesn’t stop there — there are tons of other trending scams, most of which can be avoided if you know what to watch out for.
Here are some of the most popular scams out there:
Free/fake ticket scams: You may have seen spam emails or websites that claim to offer game tickets for reduced prices. Hopefully, you’ll be able to spot a fake but some of these sites look incredibly authentic, so realize this now: no one is offering you a discount on World Cup tickets. What’s happening here is this – if you do click the link in the email, you’ll be redirected to a website where you can enter in your personal details and credit card information to “purchase” said tickets. There are no tickets of course, and now you’ve handed over your credit card details to attackers.
How to avoid it: Granted the chances of deciding halfway through the tournament that you’re interested in going are pretty slim, but if you do get so inspired, head over to FIFA.com to try your luck. They are the only official ticket seller and if you look anywhere else, you’re taking your chances.
Fake/Junk souvenirs and goods scams: With authentic Messi jerseys retailing for between $55-$75 a pop, it’s understandable that you might want to look around for better deals. But beware – there are tons of fake online retailers cashing in on FIFA fervor at the moment. While getting a knock off isn’t the end of the world (although it would be a bummer to pay for a jersey with your favorite player’s name spelled wrong), some cheap sites may be nothing more than a scam – and thus you can rest assured that a) your credit card details have been compromised and b) you’ll never get your Jersey.
How to avoid it: Only shop at the official FIFA store or known retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and be sure to always look for HTTPS on any websites where you’ll be entering in personal info.
World Cup WhatsApp scams: While there are a whole lot of WhatsApp groups dedicated to keeping fans on top of their favorite team’s performance, some of them are not what they seem to be. For example, one World Cup WhatsApp group in Brazil sent out messages advertising a free jersey in return for following a link that led to a short survey. The link contained malware and anyone who clicked it put the data on their phone in jeopardy.
How to avoid it: Never open links in messages on WhatsApp if you don’t know without a doubt that they are legitimate. The same goes for email, social media and any other messaging platforms as well — links and attachments filled with malware are one of the most common phishing ploys out there, so think before you click.
Context-based scams persist because they work. Your best bet for avoiding all too-believable scams is to know that they are out there and stay on guard. When deals seem too good to be true or someone promises you something for no good reason, stop and think about it for a moment. Sure, you may just be really lucky — or you may be getting duped. Keep your wits (and money!) about you and then you can start saving up for World Cup 2022.