With the new English Premier League season kicking off in just two weeks’ time, football fans across the country should be in training to tackle the rising threat of online ticket scams, according to a warning from Lloyds Bank.
Top-level football is a popular hunting ground for fraudsters, as they take advantage of fans’ loyalty and eagerness to watch their favourite team, knowing that most major matches across the country will be sold out.
New research by Lloyds Bank, based on analysis of reported fraud cases among its own personal banking customers, found that the number of people being scammed when buying football tickets more than doubled (+101%) last season compared to the season before, with victims losing £154 on average.
It also revealed that more than 90% of football ticket scams reported during the 2022/23 season started on just three online platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Those aged between 18 and 24 years old were most likely to fall victim.
How the football ticket scam works
When tickets for big events are scarce or in high demand, fraudsters know they can cash in on desperate fans willing to pay much more.
They create fake posts on social media or online marketplaces to advertise tickets that don’t exist. Often they will include pictures of real tickets to convince the unsuspecting buyer that they are genuine.
The victim is tricked into sending money via bank transfer (also known as a Faster Payment). Many consumers are unaware that bank transfers were not designed as a way of paying for things online and offer little protection if something goes wrong.
Unsurprisingly, it’s fans of some of the biggest clubs in England – where demand for tickets is strongest – who are most likely to be targeted. Supporters of Liverpool and Manchester United fell victim most often last season, along with Arsenal and Chelsea fans. Tickets for international matches and major cup finals are also falsely advertised on a regular basis.
Once the money has been transferred, the fraudster simply disappears, and the victim receives nothing in return.
How to stay safe when buying football tickets
Those who pay for tickets by credit card or debit card benefit from the well-established Section 75 and Chargeback rules which have been protecting consumers for decades.
The English Premier League makes clear that if you are looking to buy match tickets you should purchase them directly from the clubs. Those clubs will also provide details of any authorised ticket partners on their official website, which may include legitimate ways for tickets to be resold by individuals.
It’s also important to remember that fraudsters will target ANY major event where demand for tickets is likely to exceed supply. Earlier this year Lloyds Bank highlighted that scams relating to concert tickets surged by more than 500% last year.
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director, Lloyds Bank, said: “It’s easy to let our emotions get the better of us when following our favourite football team, but when it comes to buying tickets for matchday, it’s important fans keep a clear head.
“The vast majority of ticket scams start on Twitter and Facebook, where it’s far too easy for criminals to set up fake profiles and advertise items for sale that simply don’t exist. Social media companies must do more to tackle this issue given the vast majority of fraud starts on their platforms.
“Buying directly from football clubs or their official ticket partners is the only way to guarantee you’re paying for a real ticket, and always use your debit or credit card for maximum safety. If you’re not doing those two things, there’s a big chance you’re going to get scammed.”
Top tips when buying football tickets:
- Always use your debit or credit card when you buy tickets online. This helps to protect your money should something go wrong.
- Fraudsters use social media to advertise tickets that don’t exist. They can even send offers straight to your inbox. If you’re looking for a ticket, always search for it yourself from a trusted source.
- Low prices and seemingly great deals are often used to disguise scams. However, if demand for tickets is high or a game is sold out, fraudsters can charge more to trick desperate buyers.
- Only buy direct from the club or their official partners. Follow the Premier League’s guide on how to purchase tickets safely.