Football fans are urged not to buy tickets on social media ahead of the new season as two supporters reveal how they were scammed by clever fraudsters.
Supporters have been warned of a potential rise in football ticket scams as the Premier League started last weekend.
Data from Lloyds Bank earlier this week reveals there was a spike in fraud last season with fans losing an average of £410 each.
It is thought scams of this type will rise again with renewed interest in football after the Lionesses Euros win, the Fifa World Cup later this year and the Premier League season soon to be in full swing.
i spoke to two people who were victims of this type of scam to find out how fraudsters are convincing people to part with their money.
‘Alarm bells rang when they wouldn’t show me the ticket’
Victoria Massey, 37, was a victim of fraud after buying non-existent tickets from a scam artist on Instagram.
She said: “I have a Cardiff City season ticket and when we were in the Premier League we had a game against Liverpool. My friend is a huge Liverpool fan so we were trying to get him tickets.
“I saw on Instagram on a fan page that someone was selling tickets so I jumped on it. They wanted £80 for one. I messaged them and they responded immediately. I told my friend, who even at the time asked if it was a scam.”
Ms Massey said although she is usually savvy to this sort of thing, she was keen to get a ticket sorted.
“I am quite switched-on normally, but I was very concerned with getting him a ticket. I agreed to send the money via PayPal Friends and Family because the person selling the ticket needed the money straight away. This is something I wouldn’t normally do but I just really wanted this ticket.
“Alarm bells rang when they wouldn’t show me the ticket and the fan page account messaged me to say someone else had been potentially scammed. I spoke to PayPal immediately who tried to help but because I did it via Friends and Family (as opposed to paying for a goods or service) they couldn’t do much. Instead, they referred me to Action Fraud.
“I felt sick, I didn’t know what to do. I was still corresponding with the person selling the fake ticket, and after hours of going back and forth they refunded me – as bizarrely they wanted a bank transfer instead when I told them it was a transfer from my credit card on PayPal.
“I was so lucky to get my money back and I blocked the fraudster.
“My advice to people looking to buy football tickets is don’t be like me! I was so caught up in thinking that I could get a ticket that all common sense went out the window. If it seems too good to be true, it normally is.”
‘Don’t buy tickets from somebody on Twitter’
Laura Tomkins, 29, felt “mortified” when she fell victim to a similar scam earlier this year.
She said: “I was looking to buy football tickets for the Liverpool v Manchester City FA cup semi final game on April 16 which is my birthday. As a lifelong Liverpool fan who lives in London it felt like it was meant to be.
“I saw a few people selling tickets on Twitter so I messaged a guy who seemed very ‘real’. He gave me “references” of people who had bought off him before so I messaged them to find out more information before sending the money over to an account he gave me which was claiming to be his boss.
“I paid £80 for two tickets. I was waiting every day for the tickets to come in the post and it wasn’t until I saw two other people tweeting him to find out where their tickets were that I realised it was fake.
“I didn’t report to the police as I was absolutely mortified and instead spoke to the bank but they couldn’t help me.
“My advice is don’t buy tickets off Twitter as it could be a scam. I would ask to see a picture of the tickets beforehand if you do buy them.
“Maybe speak to the person over the phone and make sure they’re real and you’re not sending money to accounts with different names on to the person you’re speaking to. Final thing I’d say is check that they don’t regularly change their name on social and their pics as this is a key sign.”
How to protect yourself
Consumers are urged to make checks before purchasing a ticket online.
If someone can’t show you the physical ticket or is rushing you, that is likely a sign that someone is trying to con you.
Much of the time, genuine ticket sellers may also be going to the event so see if you can meet in person beforehand to get the ticket and pass over the money.
However, many fraudsters are finding new ways to con people.
Liz Ziegler, retail fraud and financial crime director at Lloyds Bank, said fraudsters were “always on the lookout for new ways to trick victims out of their hard-earned cash.”
“With pandemic restrictions coming to an end, fraudsters wasted no time in targeting football fans as they flocked back to stadiums,” she said.
“It’s easy to let our emotions get the better of us when following our favourite team, but while that passion makes for a great atmosphere in grounds across the country, when it comes to buying tickets for a match, it’s important not to get carried away in the excitement.”
Ms Ziegler added that fans should “always pay by debit or credit card for the greatest protection”.
“If you’re unable to do those things, that should be a big red flag that you’re about to get scammed,” she said