World-class scammers vie for Olympic gold

August 7, 2012 by Michael Bruemmer

Swimmers may be stealing the spotlight, but it’s scammers who are taking home the gold–in the form of stolen credit card numbers, PINs, consumers’ personal identities.

One familiar con trotted out this year (and every Olympics) is ticket fraud, including what Britons call ‘ticket touting’ (scalping) and its more sinister cousin, counterfeiting. Paying for tickets that are never delivered is another way unwary buyers are tricked into giving up personal and/or credit card information.

Beware the cyber threats

Acknowledging the widespread use of smartphones, tablets and similar devices to retrieve Games-related content, the UK’s national fraud reporting center, Action Fraud, cautions fans to browse wisely, warning that worms, viruses and other malware can penetrate mobile devices just as easily as PCs.

Top malware delivery threats listed on Action Fraud’s blog site include:

  • Search Engine Poisoning – The most prevalent form of malware delivery (40% of all malware infections), in which attackers link what appear to be legitimate search result “bait” pages to malware infected sites.
  • Drive-by-Downloads – Technique that automatically downloads malware when devices interact with an infected website, email, pop-up ad or other apparently authentic Olympic content.
  • Information Phishing – Disguised links from Facebook and Twitter abound this year. When clicked, infected links, in the shortened bit.ly/ format, for example, can instantly extract, disable or destroy a device’s content or operating system.

Staying off the scammers’ scorecards

A fraudster’s goal is to rip you off in record time and disappear into the shadows with their
ill-gotten gains.  To avoid being victimized during the Olympics (or anytime) follow these common-sense rules for browsing and buying:

  • Never click a link from someone you don’t know.
  • Avoid giving personal or credit card information to anyone whose identity and organization you can’t positively confirm.
  • For Olympics news or memorabilia, frequent only sites known to be credible and trustworthy, such as London2012.com.

Such simple precautions can make for a winning Olympics experience, and help send the fakes, frauds and phonies home empty handed.

Have you or a friend encountered scammers during the Olympics? Take a minute to briefly share your story.