Five scams to watch out for online: NetNames warns of Rugby World Cup rip-offs
NetNames reports seeing an increase in online scams targeting rugby fans
NetNames, the leading online brand protection company, has today released details of the most prevalent scams to watch out for in the run up to this year’s IRB Rugby World Cup in England and Wales. The company has already seen an increase in online scams targeting rugby fans desperate to get tickets for the most popular games and predicts there will be a further spike in cyber-criminal activity when the tournament begins in September.
The top five scams identified by NetNames are:
- Fraudulent tickets
Demand for tickets since the application phase opened in 2014 has been huge, with the initial ballot stage massively oversubscribed for many games. Whilst 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 ten times as much as face value.
- Some organisations with no official link to IRB or the organising committee state that they can “provide authentic tickets for all games” or “guarantee best tickets”.
- 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, with the new World Cup shirt due for release at the end of July. 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.
- 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.
- Unauthorised 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.
- 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 which 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.
Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations at NetNames, comments on the dangers of online Rugby World Cup scams: “Whilst 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, taking advantage of SEO, affiliate networks and varying international jurisdictions. The onus falls to big brands, which are associated with the tournament, to do as much as possible to protect their customers from phony websites and apps. Brands need the ability to monitor the internet for infringements in real time so they can minimise the threat to fans. Given the global nature of the internet, and the Rugby World Cup, it’s crucial that brands take into account the diverse attitudes to intellectual property in different countries so they can follow the correct legal procedures and get fraudulent websites or listings quickly taken down.”