The BayernForum.com How-To Guide to avoid being scammed
You took part in UEFA.com’s ticket lottery and failed to win, or else you didn’t participate at all out of fear that you may end up having to buy a ticket for a final you don’t want to watch. In the meantime, FC Bayern reaches the Champions League final and you’re left desperately scrambling trying to find the cheapest ticket out of the highly inflated options you have left. Sounding familiar?
First things first
UEFA prohibits the re-sale of tickets. This means that buying tickets from an individual, or even one of the several websites on the Internet constitutes of making use of the black market, and is not considered legal. If you don’t have a ticket right now, your only hope is through FC Bayern’s fan clubs. That is, unless you want to try your luck with a ticket from Chelsea’s fan clubs. While we don’t advise putting your life in danger, we also advise fans to use a lot of caution when trying to obtain tickets.
These tickets will contain a name and surname of a person who won the lottery. While it is unlikely that the names are cross-checked with your passport (or other means of personal identification) while entering the stadium, it is still possible, especially so if you have a nice long beard and a ticket that says “Mary Smith”.
You may want to take the risk nonetheless, but if you do, I suggest that you take some precautions.
Mistake 1: They claim they can put your name on the ticket
UEFA said that the deadline for shipping the tickets is at the end of April 2012. This means that the majority of lottery winners have already received their tickets, and for those who haven’t yet they’re on their way. There is no way that the tickets can be changed to have your name. Do ask a potential seller if they can have your name, and if he says you can you know you have to look elsewhere.
Mistake 2: They quickly offer an insane discount
I had a guy I contacted telling me that the tickets were for sale at 600 pounds (approx. 740 euros). I politely declined claiming that I have found another seller willing to sell them to me for 400 euros. Immediately he told me that “we are the company that sell you the tickets at 400 euros”. Through his broken English, this person posing as a Luis Berry from Leeds (which he kept calling Leed) offered me an immediate discount of almost 50%. Later on, I found out his little ploy and through other means I also found out he was actually from Nigeria, a country with a massive reputation for scams. More on this later.
Mistake 3: They offer you 3+ tickets seated right next to one another
When UEFA.com opened the lottery, it gave users the chance to request either one or two tickets. Since they several thousands of these tickets, the likelihood of someone being given seat numbers exactly next to someone he or she knows (and who also would like to sell tickets) is so minute that you can write it down as being impossible. Scammers are greedy people. If you ask them if they can provide you with 3 tickets seated right next to one another they will say yes, unless of course they’ve read this article. Do test potential scammers. Ask them if they can do that, so you may uncover their scam and save yourself money and disappointment.
Mistake 4: They have a temporary website
While a legitimate individual with web design skills may make a webpage to help him sell his legitimate tickets, ticket companies would generally not be after the quick buck. It makes no business sense to make a ticket company just for one event and then close it down. Several ticket companies have “2012” in their domain name which shows they don’t intend on using it next year. However, individuals may also fall in this trap by creating new email addresses just for selling tickets. Beware of these guys: they are most likely scammers.
Mistake 5: Proof of the letter they received
Lottery winners were sent an email or a letter. Ask them to send a screenshot or scan of the letter with their names and reference numbers obfuscated. Take special note of the price mentioned in the letter.
Tickets were available in four price categories – Category 1: €370, Cat 2: €260, Cat 3: €160, and Cat 4: €70. Youth Package tickets for one child accompanied by one adult were available at discount prices in Category 2: €140 (1 adult + 1 child ticket).
Furthermore, an administration fee is added per order:
Ticket orders within Germany: €10
Ticket orders within Europe: €20
Ticket orders outside Europe: €35
So make your maths. If your potential seller lives in Germany and is trying to sell you two Category 4 tickets, the price you should see in the letter is €150 (€70 + €70 + €10). If he lives in another place in Europe, it should be €160, and so on. If you don’t know the country the potential seller is from, do ask him, so that you can calculate the correct price he should have paid.
Also, take special note of the filename. One seller sent us a file called “uefa ticket application (1).jpg”. That “(1)” is generally added to the filename by web browsers trying to save a file when there is already a file with the same name in the folder they are trying to save it in. If someone is taking a screenshot or a scan, they shouldn’t be downloading from a web browser.
Furthermore, you may want to check around in Google Images in order to see if you could locate the exact same image. In our case, it proved a bit hard to find similar images, but you may have more luck.
Mistake 6: They lie about their country
This part is a bit tricky and involves some more advanced computer skills. Try to get the person to send you an email. Look at the message headers and find the originating IP address, and run a whois on that address to get the user’s country and ISP name. If this sounds like Chinese to you, take a look at this excellent guide. Try to get them to email you, as this will generally help you identify them. It’s how I caught the Nigerian scammer that I mentioned earlier.
Also, another option if they have a website is to do a whois on the website’s domain to reveal the details of the owner. If you are in contact with a website owner that looks like a one-person company, their details should match. In our case, we’ve found a domain registered to an American but someone from Turkey was replying to the emails.
For both domain and IP whois requests, you can use this great tool.
If a seller lies about his or her country, then they’ve proven untrustworthy, as simple as that.
Mistake 7: Method of payment
Western Union is a good method of receiving money from someone with as much privacy as possible. As a friend told me yesterday, Western Union is “scammers’ haven”. While someone legitimate may ask for payment through Western Union, you would be advised to proceed with suspicion from such a seller. As such, there is no safe method for avoiding scams, but some are easier for scammers to circumvent.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Paypal, eBay or a combination of both of them is enough to deter scammers. The Nigerian scammer for example had at first refused to accept Paypal but gave in under pressure after a while. Don’t bank your hopes on Paypal issuing you a full refund if you’ve been scammed either. Since buying such tickets on a black market may be marked down as illegal in their books, you may not be eligible for the refund. Besides, even if you do, you’re unlikely to get a full refund on your flight and accomodation.
We’ve told you the risks, and now it’s basically down to you whether you want to take them or not. Just remember, nothing’s safe. Some people are opting to meet their potential sellers in Munich. Just beware: try not to go alone, and meet in a well lighted and public place where there are a lot of people nearby. Never accept to meet in some alley.
We hope this article helps you uncover some scams. If you do, we’d like to hear from you!
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