June 16, 2024

Efforts to Ensure Online Safety

This week produced a BBC story about fans from Gwynedd being conned in the process of purchasing tickets for the eagerly anticipated Taylor Swift summer concert. Consequently, steps are actively being taken to ensure the online safety of the North Wales public.

Reservations have been voiced concerning the “potential high demand” for Euro 24 tickets, and the likelihood of victims falling for counterfeit tickets.

Many die-hard sports or music fans can testify to the disillusionment of a coveted match or concert selling out in an instant.

With some resorting to virtual marketplaces, fan forums or social media outlets – some might unknowingly expose themselves to scams.

Thus, this April an array of precautionary measures, useful tips, and online features for online ticket safety have been launched.

North Wales Police in conjunction with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for North Wales and online safety connoisseurs ‘Get Safe Online,’ are offering their assistance in this regard.

Bitter Sweet Experience

This initiative is being emphasized in the same week that the BBC disclosed that Sian Williams from Blaenau Ffestiniog was deceived while trying to purchase tickets for her daughter Efa to attend Swift’s much-publicized tour.

Sian lost £250 after mistakenly assuming she was buying from a legitimate source.

In the past year, there have been 59 incidents of ticketing fraud in North Wales, with losses totaling around £17,500. In 2024, 10 incidents were reported, with a loss of £3650.

The figures are gradually climbing, with a 200% increase in reports between February and March, moving from two complaints to six.

Although these figures may appear minimal, it was emphasized that the actual number may be significantly higher because this sort of fraud is often overlooked.

“Some people might attribute it to poor judgment or seek reclamation from their bank,” one OPCC spokesperson explained.

The Taylor Swift case, widely reported by the BBC, highlighted the fact that it was a distinct problem and people were becoming increasingly informed.

The Numbers Game

PC Dewi Owen of the North Wales Police Cyber Crime team stated: “According to Action Fraud, more than 7,000 people fell prey to ticket fraud in 2022, which resulted in losses of over £6.7 million. Each victim reportedly suffered a loss of hundreds of pounds.”

The OPCC and the North Wales Police have commissioned the Get Safe Online group to disseminate crucial data and tips on avoiding scams.

PC Owen advised: “Although many are looking forward to attending summer events, online criminals see this as an opportunity to dupe would-be attendees by offering fake tickets.

We are cautioning everyone in North Wales to be vigilant against online fraudsters pushing counterfeit or non-existing tickets.

Playing Safe

“Given that Taylor Swift tickets are in high demand this summer and venues are sold out across Europe, police across England and Wales have seen a surge in reported cases of victims being targeted on online marketplaces by swindlers claiming to sell their Taylor Swift tickets due to their inability to attend.

“Undoubtedly, the Euro 24 tickets will also be sought after this summer.

“Tickets should only be procured and handled through official sellers and websites. Payment should be made using a credit card or payment services such as PayPal. This will increase your chances of recouping your money should you become a victim of fraud.”

He also advised people to refrain from paying for tickets via bank transfer, especially if the seller is unknown. He also cautioned people to be sceptical of unsolicited e-mails, messages or social media posts about ‘unbelievable deals’ for tickets, particularly for high demand or sold out events.

‘If it appears too good to be real, it likely is,’ he added.

If purchasing from a seller, verify if they are affiliated with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). STAR adheres to stringent operating standards and offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to assist consumers with unresolved complaints. Further information can be gleaned from: www.star.org.uk/buy_safe

Buying tickets online presents the risk of losing your tickets if your online account or email is hacked.

Strong Security Footprints

PC Owen recommends protecting important online accounts with strong, long and unique passwords.

“Using three random words and combining them makes for a sturdy and memorable password,” he commented.

“We advise everyone to utilize the 2-step verification on their accounts as it enhances security.”

Instructions on this can be found at the Cyber Aware website Cyber Aware – NCSC.GOV.UK

Stay Safe With These Tips

Tips to ensure online safety:

  • Regardless of the event, only buy tickets from official sources such as the venue’s box office, sports club, the event promoter, authorized agents or reputable ticket exchange sites.
  • Tickets promoted on websites such as auction sites, social media, and fan forums could be fake or non-existent.
  • Avoid clicking on links or attachments in emails, texts, or social media advertising tickets. They may redirect to fraudulent or malicious sites.
  • While transferring money for tickets may seem easy, recovering your money if it’s a scam is unlikely. You will be held accountable for the loss.
  • Make it a point to review sellers’ privacy and return policies.
  • If possible, pay with a credit card for additional protection.
  • Before confirming payment, ensure all purchase details are correct.
  • When buying online, ensure that the page is genuine by entering the address yourself, not from a link. Make sure it’s secure (marked by ‘https’ and a locked padlock). Log out after completing the transaction.
  • To determine the legitimacy of a website, visit www.getsafeonline.org/checkawebsite
  • Always retain receipts until after the event.

Tony Neate, Get Safe Online CEO, added: “In a ticket scam, the swindler assures you that once they receive your payment, your tickets will be mailed or emailed.

“When no tickets arrive and you try to contact them, they have vanished. Chances are, other unsuspecting individuals have fallen for the same scam.

“Ensure you don’t become a victim by following our top safety tips.”

Free advice on staying safe is available at: www.getsafeonline.org

By  Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter

If you have a story or noticed something out of the ordinary, email [email protected]

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