Football fans at the 2022 FIFA World Cup should be vigilant against cryptocurrency scams, recent research suggests.
Cybercriminals are always drawn to large global sporting events, due to broad interest and wide-ranging attendance, according to researcher Kaspersky. During a study leading up to the World Cup, Kaspersky identified the top ways cybercriminals intend to swindle soccer fans.
As tickets for this year’s event are only available digitally, scammers have increasingly capitalized on creating fraudulent websites offering them. False websites for merchandise, gifts, and giveaways are also enticing the unwary among the event’s enthusiasts.
Yet scams involving cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens have come to the fore during the largest global event to feature them.
World Cup Crypto Scams Abound
Kaspersky highlighted the spread of various cryptocurrency scams as a “distinctive feature” of the 2022 World Cup. The researcher emphasized that many scammers have been exploiting the popularity of NFTs.
Football is the most popular sport among cryptocurrency investors according to research from KuCoin. Nearly 25% of cryptocurrency investors cite soccer as their favorite sport. Among those football-favoring crypto investors, nearly 41% are interested in sport NFTs.
Some scams revolve around gambling, offering the prospect of winning large amounts of cryptocurrency for betting on a match outcome. Similar scams involve sweepstakes for NFTs of art or team merchandise.
In both cases, fans are prompted to provide their crypto wallet credentials, so prospective winners can receive their prizes directly. However, divulging such information then results in scammers depleting fans’ wallets of their content.
Meanwhile, research also anticipated more generic crypto scams, such as investment fraud, at the global sporting event. Similar to other rug-pull schemes, scammers will entice users to invest in a newly issued coin, only to abscond with investors’ funds.
Crypto and the World Cup
This year’s World Cup is the first to feature cryptocurrencies so prominently, with crypto platform Crypto.com as a sponsor. This has been providing exposure for the platform and crypto generally to an estimated audience of five billion viewers.
Fans at the event also have the opportunity to create their own NFTs through participating in six-on-six matches. The fields at the FIFA Fan Festival capture the movements of players, and create a unique GIF based on them. Players then have the opportunity to receive these GIFs as NFTs.
Fan tokens, cryptocurrencies themed around a particular soccer team, have also played a role in the tournament so far. After an upset loss to Saudi Arabia, highly-favored Argentina’s fan token dropped nearly a quarter in value.