Euro 2020 fraudulent websites

10.06.2021

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It has been recently discovered that since the beginning of the year there have been 130 new domains registered – all related to EURO 2020 (EURO 2021) tickets. At least 12 active websites were Russian. The company notes that all of them keep being aggressively advertised and are shown at the top of the list of the relevant search engines which only increases the likelihood of fooling a buyer. Such a transaction can bring from $200 to $5000.

Alexey Drozd, Head of Information Security Department at SearchInform, shares his knowledge on the topic.

-    Have you registered fraudulent websites regarding EURO 2020 or newsletters?

-    We haven’t focused on collecting these domains but we’ve noticed multiple potentially harmful fraudulent websites selling tickets – such websites are shown as contextual advertising. In spite of organisators’ assurances, the tickets are sold not only on the UEFA official website, there are resellers, that’s why it is difficult to understand which websites are fraudulent among them. But I would recommend not to take risks. Although fans complain about a tricky registration method on UEFA official online resource, and this only helps scammers.

-    Why are these websites placed in the top of the search list? Even though they pay for the advertising, isn’t it possible to identify them as scam? Who should complain to remove them from the list?

-    Even experts can’t properly see each time whether a website is a scam. That’s why search engines block information based on received complaints. Any user can submit a complaint when encounter a fraudulent website, for example, it can be done here https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/report_phish/?hl=en
An average lifespan of a fraudulent website is about a few hours, maximum – 2-3 days. But scammers use modern methods to promote content on the Internet, use agenda of immediate relevance, even this time is enough to mislead many people.

-    Does big news usually spur the website boom? Can you give examples?

-    This is how it actually happens. Last year in Russia the fraud boom was caused several times – after the announcement of financial compensation amid lockdown, Black Friday, marketing campaigns of some brands, including bonus programs, etc.

-    Could you estimate an approximate profit a fraudulent resource extorts?

-    As for the EURO 2020 it can be calculated if an average ticket price is multiplied by a website readership with advertising costs deducted. I’m not a marketing manager, can’t say how much exactly. But considering that one ticket cost hundreds of dollars and the ads are among the top links, I won’t be surprised if fraudsters fish out hundreds of thousands. Besides, fraudsters can earn money with the help of extra services, and the profit will grow even more. Also let’s remember that any payment and personal data collected on such resource also brings money, because usage of this data can be monetized later.

-    Are there any specific signs that reveal fake websites? What can be a warning for a user?

-    Pay attention to domains. Scammers often use typosquatting – when a similar name used instead of the genuine name, for example, one letter or number can be changed or added, even a domain zone can be changed.
The best thing to do is to visit a special online service to enter the name of a domain and find out whether it is fake. There will be information about who it was registered by (a person or legal entity), how long ago. If it’s fresh and owned by an individual it’s probably a scam, because respectable brands don’t do business this way.
As fraudulent websites don’t do a long run, it is easy to learn about opinions others have about a website, whether there are any reviews left about the resource, whether contact details are correct. Thus, a few days ago we found the ad which was promoting the website selling airline tickets, and the media had already published the article about the victims of that resource who contacted the police to report fraud.
It is important to pay attention to other signs: fraudsters don’t have enough time to create a full-fledged high-quality fake website. That’s why some pages might not open, buttons can be inactive, etc.