Fraudsters First Across Finish Line


Emily Primeaux, CFE
Assistant Editor, Fraud Magazine

I’ll admit it: I am a sports nut. It doesn’t matter what the event is, the combination of tough competition and sheer athleticism is enough to glue me to the TV. I once turned on a Division II collegiate women’s bowling competition in my hotel room while spending a night in Mobile, Alabama. Not because there wasn’t anything on, but because I wanted to watch it.

So of course I’m beyond thrilled that the Olympic games are finally here. I’ll don my red, white and blue and spend the next three weeks supporting the gymnasts, rowers, divers, weight lifters, runners, footballers… I’ll even tune into handball. 

However, as with any other huge event, the Olympics produce all kinds of vulnerabilities when it comes to fraud. And of course, the spotlight has been on Brazil in the months leading up to the games due to reports of unlivable conditions in the athletes’ village, the threat of the Zika virus and alleged corruption in Rio de Janeiro. Beyond what the media reports, though, is the tough reality that fraudsters will find a way to capitalize on susceptible targets.

Beware unauthorized ticket sources
Consumers scrambling for last-minute tickets should be wary of fraudulent websites promising entry to events — including the opening and closing ceremonies — despite selling them in breach of official restrictions. Scammers register domains containing the keywords “rio” or “rio2016” which mimic official ticketing sites. By registering the domains, it makes the site look more credible. Users who input their credit card details into these sites are giving cybercriminals access to their bank accounts.  

According to The Guardian, an unauthorized ticket source under the name of “” claims to be “a secure and transparent platform for buying tickets for the Rio Olypmic (sic) Games” and tells users “you’re protected with us.” But according to the consumer group Which?, purchasers run the risk of not being allowed into any of the events and won’t be eligible for a refund.

Olympic organizers say that as of July 30 more than 80 percent of the tickets available for the Rio Olympics had been sold. Fans looking for tickets should be careful and buy only from the official ticketing website

Phishing for fools
Security experts are warning fans to be aware of spam and phishing campaigns surrounding the games. One scam in particular sent fake lottery win notifications supposedly from the Brazilian government and the International Olympic Committee. To claim their winnings, the recipients are asked to provide personal details. Of course there is no prize — unless you count identity theft!

Other fraudsters use spam mail or online banner advertisements to “sell” souvenirs related to the Olympics. Experts strongly recommend not buying anything advertised in these methods. Again, visiting the official Olympics website to purchase merchandise is the safest bet.

Enjoy the Opening Ceremonies tonight! I know I will.