World football body FIFA has underlined stern warnings to anyone buying last minute tickets for the forthcoming World Cup tournament in South Africa: buy from a non-authorised source and you stand a good chance of being scammed.
Ticket scams are now a major headache for almost any event with music and sporting events the commonest targets, but that hasn't stemmed the tide of willing victims for one of the simplest crimes going.
Specifically, FIFA draws people's attention to a recurrent emails which claim users have won tickets in a prize draw and which require upfront payment. Other scams include bogus websites, fraudulent travel package firms, and individual touts trying to offload tickets they almost certainly do not possess.
Paper tickets are expected to find their way on to the back market as the tournament nears.
Perpetrators typically set up bogus websites, or spam people with barely-convincing emails claiming to have access to tickets. That the website looks professional means nothing, including any accreditation it might claim to have.
A major problem is how people distinguish what is authorised form what isn't. Confusion over this basic issue - and the fact that tickets to events are now controlled by middle-men most users have no direct relationship with - is how the bogus ticket industry has grown up in the first place.
According to FIFA, tickets other than those sold through packages can only be bought from the organisation's website, fifa.com, or in South Africa from the national football association. An official list is available on the organisation's website, though unhelpfully the supplied link led to a 404 when Techworld tested it. A list of authorised tour operators for each country is available here [PDF].
Alternatively, if in doubt, the organisation can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. What users should do only at their peril is buy from eBay sellers.
"Not every potential fan may be aware of the repercussions (not just to himself but to the wider activities of the tournament organisers) of purchasing tickets, ticket inclusive travel packages or hospitality packages from unauthorised sources," read a recent FIFA press release.
This story, "FIFA Warns Over World Cup Ticket Scams" was originally published by Techworld.com.