Don't fall for the Grand National scam

Horse race

Online fraud experts are warning rookie gamblers of a Grand National Scam threat ahead of the big race on Saturday. 

In the run up to the nation's favourite race, online advice site, is warning of fake gambling sites designed to mimic those of well-known betting shops.

By placing a bet on a fake website, gamblers have no chance of their bet paying out, even if their horse comes in. But gamblers won't just lose their original stake, they could also be placing themselves at risk of ongoing credit card fraud.

Peter Wood, security expert at, says online betting sites aren't used by the majority of the population until a popular race, such as the Grand National, takes place.

"These fake sites are operating in the belief that most of these people won't have undertaken much research before placing a bet. They make much of their money on their ability to look like legitimate and well-known betting sites, when in fact they are fake and will not pay out if your horse does come in. In the worst case scenarios, you could become a victim of identity theft," he adds.

Mass marketing scams

According to Consumer Direct, three million UK adults fall victim to mass marketing scams every year - losing on average £850.

To help consumers learn how to spot fake websites and scam emails Know the net has created an online Threat Test. The test can also show if you're susceptible to social-networking and malware (software that can take over your computer) scams.

How to spot a fake website (gambling or retail):


  • Check the website's credentials – Google the site you plan to use. Legitimate and safe sites will come up first.
  • Search for alternative contact details like their postal address and phone number. If in doubt give them a call.
  • Before entering any banking information, look for the padlock symbol in the lower toolbar, towards the bottom of the screen.
  • Many fake sites mimic legitimate ones- check the URL (everything that appears in the web address window of your browser) and if you are suspicious or there are any spelling mistakes stay well clear.
  • If you are shopping at a retail site for the first time pay with a credit card rather than debit card as there is more buyer protection (on purchases between £100 and £30,000).


If you're worried about being scammed, read our guide to beating online fraud.

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Your Comments

Not sure about the advice to pay with a credit card. I did this and was hit with dozens of cash advance fees and a high interest rate - I thought it would be treated like any other online purchase but it isn't. The credit card companies treat it the same as going to a cashpoint.

 Thanks for pointing this out - these tips from Know the Net apply to all fake websites, not just gambling sites. Many gambling sites will view a bet as a cash advance meaning you could be hit with additional fees and charges. If in doubt check with your credit card issuer.

Minor point: the location of the padlock varies somewhat depending on what OS and browser you are using (not everyone uses IE on Windows).

Major point: the padlock merely shows that you are using the "https" protocol which encrypts the transmissions between you and the website (so they can't be easily intercepted in an intelligible form). HOWEVER, if the website is a fake, the padlock does nothing to help ... your information will be delivered to the website exactly as you sent it.

Hi Richard - thanks for these points. A fake site would need to have a valid certificate in order to show the padlock. Although this is possible, it isn't likely, as most criminals will avoid registering with the certificate authorities.

The idea behind the use of a credit card, is for payment protection. Your lose due to fraudulent transactions (after all this is what this article is in relation to, not bank charges for cash advances) will generally be recouped and has more protection than a debit card. Not only that, if your debit card is used, you lose the money. Credit card transactions don’t take anything from your pocket.

Totally agree there Peter, was going to make the exact same point until I saw your response

I have recieved about 15 of these scam emails this past week, needless to say I binned them.