The FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will take place in Australia and New Zealand from July this year, is causing concern, but experts warn that scammers and cybercriminals will be lurking.
Due to high ticket demand, Australia’s Women’s World Cup opening match against Ireland was moved to a larger stadium.
The match was originally scheduled to take place at Sydney’s newly built Allianz Stadium, which has a capacity of 42,500 spectators, and will now take place at the Australia Stadium, which has a capacity of over 82,000 spectators.
The demand is intended to attract the attention of opportunistic criminals who are also targeting last year’s men’s world championships in Qatar.
The Group-IB study uncovered more than 16,000 fraudulent domains in the run-up to the men’s performance in Qatar, as well as dozens of fake social media accounts, ads and mobile apps targeting fans and World Cup participants.
Alex Chidiac of the Matildas celebrates scoring a goal during the 2023 Women’s Nations Cup soccer match between Australia and Jamaica
Experts warn soccer fans looking to book FIFA Women’s World Cup tickets to beware of phishing scams
Tyler McGee is the general manager of product development for McAfee Australia and New Zealand, a global leader in device security focused on cyber security.
He warned Australian and New Zealand soccer fans that cybercriminals were using more sophisticated methods and would certainly target this year’s Women’s World Cup.
“One of the key trends last year around the FIFA Men’s World Cup was the increased surge in activity around these criminals who were basically trying to do a few things,” he said.
This year, with the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicking off in July, Australia is a prime target for these cybercriminals looking to continue what they did last year around the world and in connection with these global sporting events.
“One of them is actively tricking people into buying fake tickets and simply raising money that way. Secondly, also the collection of personal data. In fact, they want to get as much personal information about you as possible through various means.
“Name, address, date of birth, and if you’re stupid enough to give out credit card details and in some cases, bank details.”
“The key thing with these cybercriminals now is that there are no borders”
“There are no borders, they operate locally, they target big events anywhere in the world.”
Aside from fake tickets, McGee said there are three other key methods cybercriminals will use to try to defraud Australians and Kiwis of their money and personal information.
Sam Kerr of the Matildas speaks to fans after the 2023 Women’s Nations Cup soccer game between Australia and Jamaica
Kerr celebrates with his teammates after winning a Nations Cup match at McDonald Jones Stadium
Everyone loves freebies and scammers know it. Therefore, they will hold fake contests to collect personal information and even money from unsuspecting fans.
“What they do is usually send via social media or directly to your email address with the opportunity to enter a contest to win tickets to an event,” McGee said.
“What they are trying to do is actually related to phishing. They try to get as much information from you as possible.
“These things will ask for your date of birth, your full name, home address, and as much information as they can get away with to make it look credible.”
McGee said it was important to follow the source of the competition and see if they are related to FIFA and the World Cup before entering. ‘
“FIFA has very strict rules about who can offer or associate themselves with this brand and the World Cup and if they don’t, that would mean a few red flags and a few alarm bells for me.”
Fake contests will also often try to appeal to your FOMO or fear of missing out by offering short deadlines to enter or claim a prize.
This is to prevent thinking about the legitimacy of the competition and carrying out checks.
“From our perspective, we say: be careful, do your homework, take a breath, sit back, look at the sky, think about it, is this something I want to get into? Do I feel safe taking part in this contest? McGee said.
Thousands of football fans will want to enjoy the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand
Fans will travel around the world, just like at the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar
Over 500,000 tickets have already been sold for the World Cup, which means that many people will come to the event.
Moreover, both visitors and locals will cross country and ditch to New Zealand to catch games, so scammers will be looking to catch fans.
“They say we can book your flight, we can book your hotels and we’ll get your ticket to the event. So basically, doing it all together, it usually seems to be pretty cheap,” McGee said.
“It’s an ad that appears via social media or may come directly to you if they already have access to your email address.
“What they’re trying to do is collect as much information from you as possible, and in a basic scenario for them, trick you into betting hard cash or credit card details on it.
“What we recommend, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is”
Matildas players Steph Catley, Courtney Nevin and Sam Kerr celebrate winning the Nations Cup
Solai Washington from Jamaica clashes with Tameka Yallop and Clare Wheeler from Matildas
Just because you’re happy to sit and watch games at home doesn’t mean you’re immune to cybercrime.
They know millions will want to stream matches and fake platforms and links will be set up and distributed to try to collect your personal information.
“These sites pop up and say you can watch women’s games for example for free,” McGee said.
“All they try to do is trick you into downloading an app or downloading a link, and once downloaded, they might just hide in this malware or ransomware.
“We certainly have products to help protect you from these kinds of attacks.”
In my opinion, the safest route if you want to stream matches is to go to the official World Cup website or TV partner who will charge you money but at least you know you are getting what you paid for.