Fake Olympic tickets and Zika news apps scam users

Scammers are creating fake websites targeting Olympic fans

These days not a headline goes by without some cybercriminal jumping all over it. Now, with the Olympics coming up and travelers wary of the Zika virus, scammers are creating fake websites and apps to steal money or to infect users with malware.

"There are actually sites that say they sell tickets, but never actually give you tickets," said James Pledger, research director at RiskIQ.

Sometimes, it's easy to spot the fakes.

"One of the most common things is very poor English," he said. "Or they'll only accept payment in online currencies or wire transfers. Other indicators are that there are a lot of complaints, or they've been up for a very short time frame."

Take, for example, Tickets4SummerGames. The website has since been taken down, but the Facebook page is still up.

From the screenshots, images and posts, it can seem legitimate at first glance. But when you look closer, the writing is awkward and unprofessional, and there are customer comments saying that they never got their tickets and want their money back.

Kaspersky Labs analysts say that the anti-virus company is "constantly blocking dozens of newly registered domains" to fake ticket sales sites.

olympics fraud site RiskIQ

One tactic is to ask for bank card information, and use it to steal money from the users' bank accounts. They tell the users that payment has been received, and that the tickets will be sent two or three weeks before the event.

"By the time they realize they won’t be getting the tickets they booked it will be too late to buy genuine tickets… especially if there’s no money in their bank account," said analysts Tatyana Shcherbakova and Andrey Kostin in their report.

Last time around, scam sites promising tickets to sold-out events at the Beijing Olympics took some people for tens of thousands of dollars.

Buyers should be cautious, and check the official list of Olympic ticket resellers before sending any money.

There are also fake sites pretending to sell Olympics merchandise.

According to a report by RSA, some of the fake sites rank higher than legitimate sites due to aggressive search engine poisoning.

Mobile apps that promise to deliver Olympics-related news and information, or updates about the Zika virus, typically turn out to have little functionality when they're installed. Other than the malware, that is.

"It depends on how much effort they want to go to," said RiskIQ's Pledger.

With sophisticated, targeted attacks, there might be some real content, usually illegally copied from somewhere else.

"But a lot of times, to be completely honest, these guys are trying to do it as quickly as possible," Pledger said.

The criminals lure people in with spam emails, search engines, and will even buy advertisements.

When the applications are taken down by app store owners or legal authorities, they just pop right back up again.

The fake mobile apps typically are either trying to steal information or to dial toll numbers.

There's also another damaging aspect to some of these scams, said Pledger -- they may be piggy-backing on a legitimate brand and hurting its reputation.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Maria Korolov

CSO (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?