Beware World Cup scams

World Cup

Football fans are being targeted by a number of scams in the run-up to the World Cup in South Africa this summer, with cons ranging from fake offers of tickets and accommodation to cyber criminals attempting to steal bank details.

So what should fans travelling to the tournament or watching games at home look out for?


The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) says it is receiving an increasing number of complaints from overseas people who have booked accommodation in South Africa only to find that after the deposit has been paid, the accommodation owner disappears, together with the deposit.

Pat Cunningham, executive director of SAFPS, says although the accommodation advance-fee fraud is fairly common, there has been a marked increase in complaints and reports from people abroad who have used public websites offering accommodation, only to find that their deposit disappears together with the fraudster.

“We have one particular individual who has used more than six different names and e-mail addresses to solicit advance-fee deposits, and the same photograph of a property in Camps Bay Cape Town has been used on each occasion,” he says.

To be on the safe side, use an accredited travel agency or website to book accommodation.


Tickets to World Cup matches are only sold by FIFA, or as part of a travel package sold by a FIFA-approved travel company. These are BAC Sport, Thomas Cook Sport, Emirates Tours, Keith Prowse and Thomson Sport/Sportsworld.

FIFA has warned fans about email scams and internet hoaxes which either:

* Falsely claim to be part of a FIFA lottery, prize draw or competition,
* Ask for additional payment to guarantee tickets that you have “won”
* Ask for your personal information to secure tickets

Fans should also be wary of tickets for sale on the internet on sites such as Gumtree or eBay. Many of the tickets are either fake or invalid. Generally, tickets are only issued a few weeks before the match takes place so be wary of any sellers that claim to have tickets in their possession already.

Emails and websites

Internet security firm Symantec has intercepted millions of phishing emails and uncovered hundreds of fake websites aimed at fans keen to get their hands on tickets to the matches in South Africa or to watch games online.

It has even discovered a ‘botnet’ - which is an illicit network of computers hijacked by fraudsters to send out spam emails - concentrating on World Cup scams.

The emails contain links that when clicked download malicious software – or spyware – onto the recipient’s computer which then steals personal information such as bank details and passwords.

Symantec has set up a website specifically to warn football fans about the latest World Cup cyber scams.

To avoid being a victim of cyber criminals, be very wary about clicking on links in emails from senders you don’t recognise.

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