NetNames, the leading online brand protection company, reports on the top five online rip-offs to avoid ahead of and during the World Cup…

1. Fraudulent tickets

Demand for World Cup tickets since the application phase opened last year has been huge, with the initial ballot stage massively oversubscribed for many games. Whilst a further 100,000 tickets were released in late May on a first-come, first-serve basis, the most popular games are sold out.

Despite the organising committee issuing warning messages on the official ticketing website about the dangers of buying through unauthorised third parties, a simple search for the term ‘Rugby World Cup tickets’ on Google provides thousands of results. Among these search results, research uncovered:

  • Ticket listings on sites that don’t appear to be authorised to sell the tickets, with prices ranging from £657 for the England-Australia pool game, to £10,000 for the final on 31 October.
  • Even games that appear in low demand on the official ticketing website are being sold on websites for nearly £400 – almost ten times as much as face value.
  • Some organisations with no official link to World Rugby or the organising committee state that they can “provide authentic tickets for all games” or “guarantee best tickets”.
RWC ticket

Gold in your fingers: Demand for the major matches far outstrips supply – attracting ticket fraudsters

2. Fake strip

As with any sports tournament, you can expect an increase in sales of replica kit in the run up to the World Cup. A limited-edition England home World Cup jersey shirt costs £120 in the official RWC online shop, with other adult options priced at £60-70.

However, a search on some overseas online marketplaces reveals that the shirts are for sale for just £7, with quantities on offer in excess of 20 units at a time. At that price and in that quantity you would have to question the authenticity of the product – if it actually arrives at all.

3. Unofficial apps

This World Cup will see more fans access information via their smartphone than ever before. World Rugby Ltd has an official app that is free for users, but a simple search on some of the major app stores reveals a couple of unofficial apps, that could be dangerous for fans not wary of scams. This number is set to rise as the tournament gets closer.

During recent major sports events, some unofficial apps, that have featured official colours and logos, appeared to illegally stream matches live. Users need to be cautious as rogue mobile apps are capable of infecting devices with viruses and can also access personal data.

One app you can trust is the one from Rugby World.

4. Unauthorised merchandise

The RWC organising committee started launching official merchandise last year, setting up shops in major tourist centres such as Oxford Street and Covent Garden in London and the St David’s Centre in Cardiff. In addition, the official online store offers a full range of products.

However, websites are already offering counterfeit merchandise, trying to pass it off as official – one online marketplace is selling England polo shirts, which retail for £30 on the official website, for around £6. Every official product has a Rugby World Cup 2015 hologram on it, although some online listings may use misleading pictures displaying the hologram. If in doubt, report an item to the Rugby World Cup team.


Shirt off your back: merchandise has long been a soft target for the con men (Pic: Getty Images)

5. Betting sites

One of the most popular traditions of any major sports event such as the World Cup is betting, whether on the winning team, top try-scorer or individual match outcomes. Most fans will probably be using the mainstream betting companies to place their bets, which offer a safe, secure environment for gamblers.

But some fans may be lured by other alternatives that offer odds on games that seem too good to be true. In most instances, these deals are too good to be true and winning bets may never be settled. Before you hand over any money, it’s worth doing some simple research online about the reputation of the website or company. See RW’s guide to spread betting.

Brand responsibility

Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations at NetNames, says: “Fraudsters are deploying increasingly sophisticated tactics, taking advantage of SEO, affiliate networks and varying international jurisdictions. The onus falls to big brands, which are associated with the tournament, to do as much as possible to protect their customers from phony websites and apps.

“Brands need the ability to monitor the internet for infringements in real time so they can minimise the threat to fans. Given the global nature of the internet, and the Rugby World Cup, it’s crucial that brands take into account the diverse attitudes to intellectual property in different countries so they can follow the correct legal procedures and get fraudulent websites or listings quickly taken down.”