If you’re not a soccer fan, you might not be following the news of the upcoming World Cup spectacular.

If you are a soccer fan; you know that this single sporting series garners almost as much worldwide attention—and fan devotion—like the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, as with any high-profile event, the World Cup also draws a lot of attention from scammers.

Every four years, the World Cup tournament brings teams and spectators together in the host city, while millions more follow the action via television, the internet, live streams and news updates. All of the excitement that the tournament generates can lead to a wide variety of crimes.

Ticketing scams (for the World Cup and any other major headline event) are one of the most common pitfalls. The bait and switch aspect to online ticket fraud and the outrageous prices from ticket scalpers can easily separate a fan from their money. Phony websites that claim to sell tickets can also target users’ computers with viruses and malware. It’s important to purchase tickets for major events from reputable sources and if possible use a payment method that will afford you some sort of buyer protection.

Online viewing of key matches can help keep you connected, but trying to watch all the action for free when a major television network is not broadcasting it can leave you vulnerable to hacking. How? Shady websites that claim to have all of the events or phishing messages that pretend to let you watch for free can infect your computer with viruses and other malware. Remember to only use legitimate, legal sources to watch the matches.

Travel document scams for the events will likely be a problem, especially with the host venue in Russia. Scammers who intend to play off of confusion surrounding the necessary documentation may send out phishing emails that request mysterious fees or highly-sensitive identifying information. It’s important that fans understand the travel requirements before booking their trips in order to avoid falling victim to some form of government document scam.

Other travel scams involve getting to the event and finding a place to stay can also be a headache. Bogus websites that offer unbelievable travel deals for the World Cup could end up being nothing more than a bait-and-switch scam that steals would-be travelers’ money, so it’s important to book all of your transportation and accommodations through well-known sites that offer traveler protection.

Friend scams are usually so poorly worded that you’d think it would be easy to spot them. However, all it takes is a moment of doubt. If a scammer can convince you that a friend or relative has traveled to the World Cup and is in legal trouble, has been robbed, doesn’t have money, is hurt and in the hospital, or any other plausible story, you might be tempted to hand over some money. Instead, play along while using another contact method to reach out to your friend and confirm that they’re safe.

Knock-off event memorabilia has been a problem for major headline events for many years. The worst that usually happened, though, was the fan purchased a poorly made “fake” jersey for a decent price. Now, however, thanks to the ability to make a website and list items for sale, scammers can cut-and-paste photos of actual FIFA team products and never send the non-existent gear while stealing fans’ money. It’s important that fans only purchase team items from licensed sellers who are working with FIFA’s approval.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.