Six Rugby World Cup scams and rip-offs
With the start of the Rugby World Cup less than a fortnight away, fans are being urged to watch out for scams and rip-offs targeting them.
Stuart Fuller, a director at NetNames, a company that has been investigating the issue, warned: "While we will all get rugby fever come September, so will the cyber criminals. They will already have their plans in place to try to exploit fans' enthusiasm. Fraudsters are deploying increasingly sophisticated tactics."
Here are the top five scams and rip-offs his company have identified along with another dodgy dealer being investigated by consumer group Which?
1. Dodgy tickets
Demand for tickets since the application phase opened in 2014 has been huge, with the initial ballot stage massively oversubscribed for many games. While a further 100,000 tickets were released in late May on a first-come, first-serve basis, some of the most popular games are completely sold out.
Despite the organising committee issuing warning messages on the official ticketing website about the dangers of buying through unauthorised third parties, a simple search for the term "Rugby World Cup tickets" on Google provides thousands of results. Among these search results, NetNames research uncovered:
• Ticket listings on sites that do not appear to be authorised to sell the tickets, with prices ranging from £657 group stages for the England v Australia game, to £10,000 for the final at the end of October.
• Even games that appear in low demand on the official ticketing website, such as Namibia v Georgia in Exeter, are being sold on websites for nearly £400, almost 10 times as much as face value.
• Some organisations with no official link to World Rugby or the organising committee state that they can "provide authentic tickets for all games" or "guarantee best tickets".
2. Fake England strip
As with any sporting tournament, you can expect an increase in sales of replica kit in the run up to the Rugby World Cup. Currently, an England shirt can be bought online from UK retailers for £70. However, a search on some overseas online marketplaces reveals the shirts are for sale for just £7, with quantities on offer in excess of 20 units at a time. At that price and in that quantity you would have to question the authenticity of the product if it actually arrives at all.
3. Unofficial apps
This year's World Cup will see more fans access information via their smartphone than ever before. The World Rugby Ltd has an official app that is free for users, but a simple search on some of the major app stores reveals a couple of unofficial apps already, that could be dangerous for fans. This number is set to soar as the tournament gets closer.
During recent major sporting events, some unofficial apps, that have featured official colours and logos, appeared to illegally stream matches live. Users need to be cautious as rogue mobile apps are capable of infecting devices with viruses and can also access personal data.
4. Knock-off merchandise
The organising committee for the Rugby World Cup started launching official merchandise last year, setting up shops in major tourist centres such as Oxford Street and Covent Garden in London and the St.David's Centre in Cardiff. In addition the official online store offers a full range of products for the tournament.
However, websites are already offering counterfeit merchandise, trying to pass it off as official - one online marketplace is selling England Polo Shirts, which retail for £30 on the official website, for around £6. Every official product has a Rugby World Cup 2015 hologram on it, although some online listings may use misleading pictures displaying the hologram. If in doubt, report an item to the Rugby World Cup team.
5. Bogus betting sites
One of the most popular traditions of any major sporting event such as the Rugby World Cup is betting, whether on the winning team, top try scorer or individual match outcomes. Most fans will probably be using the mainstream betting companies to place their bets that offer a safe, secure environment for gamblers, but some may be lured by other alternatives who offer odds on games that seem too good to be true.
In most instances, these deals are too good to be true and winning bets may never be settled. Before you hand over any money it is worth doing some simple research online about the reputation of the website or company.
6. The rogue re-seller
A Which? investigation has exposed a scam website re-selling tickets with no guarantee they'll ever arrive. GetSporting.com has been offering deals that may be too good to be true, selling tickets for sold out matches like England v Australia and England v Wales. According to Which? enquiries into the company's track record and several online review sites, it appears consumers are unlikely to receive tickets or could even receive fake ones.
Which? believes this site is operating unlawfully and is urging rugby fans looking for a last-minute ticket to avoid it. It is not registered as an official Rugby World Cup 2015 re-selling site and is operating against the ticketing policy for Rugby World Cup 2015, allowing people to buy up to 10 tickets at once instead of the official allowance of four. The law states ticket re-selling sites need to outline to consumers which standing or seating area the tickets relate to and the original face value. GetSporting.com is doing neither of these things.
Its payment methods have also given Which? cause for concern. It's offering a discount for people who pay for their tickets through wire transfer but this method of payment means it's almost impossible to get your money back if something goes wrong. For example, if someone is buying 10 top band Cup Final tickets from the site, they could stand to lose around £18,000.
Which? pointed out that other well-known ticket sites, such as Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo, are also not registered as official re-sale agents for the tournament and, consequently, tickets bought on these sites may not be accepted.
Rugby World Cup 2015 has set up its own tool for people to check whether the site they are buying from is an official registered vendor: rugbyworldcup.com/buyofficial
With so many scams and rip offs around, fans are urged to take extra care before parting with any cash. If you are spending more than £100 at any time, remember if you pay by credit card, you will be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act should anything go wrong with a purchase. That means your credit card company will have to refund you.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.