Three Ways Scammers Target the World’s Biggest Sporting Event

Jul 21, 2021

Olympic Medals

Covid-19 isn’t the only nuisance antagonizing this year’s Summer Games in Tokyo. Concerted efforts by scammers to capitalize on the world’s most anticipated sporting event are underway, highlighting the escalating requirement for smarter and more efficient brand protection technology.

Every four years, scammers target the high profile and high dollar sporting spectacle, drawn by the potential for massive profit. Though the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) intellectual property and all related marks are highly legally protected, this doesn’t stop bad actors, often hiding behind the convenience of modern technology, from attempting to solicit their piece of the pie.

Here we cover a few of the most common ways scammers target the Games and how modern brand protection technology is well suited to help alleviate the problem.

Common Ways Fraudsters Take Advantage of the Games

1. Counterfeit merchandise

Perhaps the most common intellectual property abuse associated with the Games is that surrounding apparel and other similar merchandise. From t-shirts to hats to all types of souvenirs containing the protected marks of the Games and related official sponsors, unauthorized manufacturers and their distributors will be swindling consumers eager for 2020/2021 keepsakes.

2. Fraudulent tickets

A full year in advance of the 2020 Games, before they were postponed due to the global pandemic, a specific incident saw the fraudulent purchase of 6,900 tickets in Japan, worth 180 million yen ($1.67 million) via an online lottery. While the tickets were voided, this scenario underscores the demand surrounding ticket acquisition and the digital channels that can be abused in order to obtain them.

As the Games get underway, it’s likely that unauthorized sellers, with seemingly secure and transparent ordering methods, will pop up with last-minute tickets, as was the case for the 2016 Games in Rio. Driving the ambitions of scammers to defraud will also be the higher demand from Covid-19 restrictions and highly enforced crowd limitations.

3. Phishing schemes via email and social media

Using the theme of the Games as a guise, fraudsters are also using email and social media to impersonate varying officials and convincing unsuspecting victims to hand over their money. In one specific incident that took place in 2019, scammers targeted students at a university with a realistic Games-related job posting.

How to Minimize Trademark Infringement and Protect Brand Equity

With so many channels and marketplaces for fraudsters to operate in our complex digital world, it can seem like a daunting task to tackle the problem of fraud and IP infringement. Thankfully, with the right strategy and technology, scammers and their vast abuse networks can be traced, targeted, and taken down.

Here are 3 important steps to always ensuring brand protection, not only during a high profile, high-risk event:

1. Identify and prioritize highest value targets –find the biggest abuse networks and/or quickly identify and zoom in on the areas of infringement you most want to protect.

2. Uncover blind spots—discover inconspicuous abuse, such as those not using an obvious mark but still operating or profiting from your intellectual property.

3. Correlate online and offline data—for example, executing “test buys” of suspicious merchandise and bringing that data back into your digital efforts.

Want to learn more about how you can protect your brand against intellectual property threats? Download our whitepaper, Defending Brands, New Realities New Partnerships.

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