With England's progression at the World Cup in Qatar, fans may be tempted to look for unofficial deals for cheap tickets, flights and hotel packages for what could be a crucial month for the men's England national team. However, our advice is to be very cautious of ticket fraud!
It’s the dream of many a football fan to attend a World Cup Finals tournament, but it isn’t cheap.
The advice is always to buy tickets or flight and accommodation from official sources. But as the cost-of-living crisis continues to grip the nation and fans simply cannot afford the inflated prices offered via official means, they may be tempted to scour the web for cheap deals. This should be done with extreme caution!
Tickets to watch a group game were as little as £11 if fans were willing to accept the category 4 option. But now England are through to the knockout rounds, the prices are rising. And it's not just tickets. The logistical cost and the hefty accommodation prices will have fans searching for cheaper third-party or unofficial ticket, flight and hotel packages online or via social media.
But it’s worth reading into a few stats before you go unofficial. Ticket fraudsters duped victims out of almost £4 million in the last year, as people bought tickets for festivals and events online as the coronavirus restrictions eased.
Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, reveals that 4,982 people fell victim to ticket fraud in the 2021/22 financial year, and it’s not predicted that the picture will look any prettier for 2022/23.
Action Fraud receive hundreds of reports of ticket fraud every month - the highest number was recorded in September last year, with a whopping 623 reports!
Fraudsters are aware of the high demand for tickets to major events and will know that getting to Qatar is not cheap either, hence the fake adverts for cheap deals. Scammers prey on the desperation of those fans who want to cheer on their nation but who cannot afford the inflated prices.
If it’s too good to be true…
Whilst we have focused on the World Cup, ticket fraud doesn’t stop there.
If you receive an email or a link offering tickets to major events that have sold out or that are likely to attract huge interest - sometimes at vastly discounted prices - be aware.
As we always say: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, a sentiment echoed by Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mellish, from the City of London Police.
DCI Mellish states:
“Reports of ticket fraud have risen further again this year. As many festivals and events sell out, don’t be deceived by offers on secondary ticketing websites or social media, as this is often where criminals will advertise fake tickets to popular and sold-out events. Remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
During the 2021/22 financial year, victims reported losing £3.8 million to ticket fraud - an average loss of over £750 per victim.
The highest percentage of reports (27 per cent) came from 20-to-29-year-olds and almost half (48 per cent) of victims were aged 20 to 49 years old.
One victim lost £900 after they found someone on Twitter selling a ticket to the Euro 2020 final. The victim contacted the suspect who showed proof of the ticket. The victim transferred the money to the suspect and once the suspect had received the payment, they deleted their account.
Another victim lost over £150 after they saw an advert for tickets to a concert. The victim contacted the suspect who said two tickets were available and then transferred the money for the ticket. Once the suspect had received the payment, they blocked the victim.
One way to ensure your ticket is genuine is to look for the STAR insignia. Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive of Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), said:
“Buying from a STAR member means you are buying from an authorised ticket supplier signed up to our strict code of practice. While we hope you never have to use it, this also gets you access to our approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service."
Spot the signs of ticket fraud and protect yourself
Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site.
Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering your money if you become a victim of fraud.
Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Is the vendor a member of STAR? If they are, the company has signed up to their strict governing standards. STAR also offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help customers with outstanding complaints. For more information visit star.org.uk/buy_safe. They have also produced a STAR Ticket Buying Guide
Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.
Stop: taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Challenge: could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).