Rio Olympics a Sporting Ground for Fraudsters

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As over half a million fans descend on Rio for the summer Olympics kicking off on Friday, experienced fraudsters will be eyeing the deluge of international audiences drawn to this major sporting event, warns ACI Worldwide.

Brazil has among the world’s highest rates of debit and credit card fraud, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Fraud Survey, published by ACI Worldwide and Aite. The research shows that almost half of consumers in Brazil (49%) had experienced some kind of card fraud in the past five years. Only Mexico has a higher card fraud rate (56%) than Brazil, followed by the US in third (47%). Even more alarming is the fact that only two years ago, 30% of those surveyed in Brazil said they had been a victim of card fraud, highlighting that the fraud problem in Brazil is escalating.

The survey also reveals worrying growth in cardholders engaging in risky behaviors when it comes to managing their cards and security credentials. Over 50% of those surveyed admitted to practices like writing down PIN numbers and storing them close to cards. In many countries, around a quarter of respondents never secure their phone.

“With fraud rates in Brazil continuing to soar, it is important that visitors to the Rio Games do everything they can to protect themselves,” said Jay Floyd, head of fraud strategy EMEA at ACI Worldwide. “Our research shows that the careless behavior of many consumers contributes to the perpetration of fraud. Although many banks have invested in robust technology to quickly identify card fraud and will reimburse customers in case of fraud, it is better to avoid becoming a victim and having your holidays spoiled by fraudsters in the first place.”

Visitors to the games should remember a few top tips. For instance, when shopping in Brazil (or any other tourist destination for that matter), seek out retailers that let you pay with chip-and-pin cards and not just via the magnetic stripe on the back of the credit card. When in doubt, pay in cash. Visitors should also lock their smartphone or tablet, should never store cards and security credentials in the same place, and should call the bank before taking an international trip.

Of course, on-the-ground fraud isn’t the only thing that Olympics fans have to fear. Security experts have spotted numerous spam and phishing campaigns piggy-backing on interest in the event. Kaspersky Lab analysts Tatyana Shcherbakova and Andrey Kostin explained that the scammers have been ramping up their activities for a year, starting with fake lottery win notifications spoofed to come from the Brazilian government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

To claim their winnings, the recipients are asked to provide personal details—clearly a standard phishing tactic.

Spam emails have also been spotted by Kaspersky Lab trying to sell everything from TVs to pills—all using interest in the Olympics as a lure to entice internet users. It has also blocked dozens of newly registered domains containing the keywords “rio” or rio2016” etc., which are hosting “good quality imitations” of official ticketing sites.

Fake ticketing emails require extra work on the scammers' part and could seem more authentic to unsuspecting sports fans, according to the Russian AV vendor.

Photo © lazyllama/

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