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How sneaky scammers are using AI to get you to buy fake Super Bowl tickets


If you’re one of the lucky fans who managed to get tickets to the Super Bowl, congratulations. You’re in for a thrilling experience. But if you’re still looking for tickets and are tempted by offers on social media platforms, beware. You might end up with a fake ticket and a lot of disappointment.

Counterfeit tickets are a serious issue that affects many major events, especially the Super Bowl. According to members of the intelligence team at managed intelligence company Nisos, scammers are actively seeking victims who are hoping to get last-minute tickets to the Super Bowl, often preying on their desperation and the scarcity of tickets to take advantage of them. 

Nisos has been compiling a data dive on counterfeit Super Bowl tickets for this Sunday’s big game and has uncovered some alarming findings.

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super bowl trophy

NFL footballs and Lombardi Trophy (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

What are the new tactics scammers are using to trick you into buying counterfeit Super Bowl tickets?

Scam tactic No. 1 — Using image editing software 

One of the most common ways that scammers create fake tickets is by using image editing software to generate documents mimicking legitimate tickets, such as receipts. They may also use stolen or forged barcodes or QR codes to make the tickets look more authentic. Nisos found several instances of such fake tickets being advertised on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and X.

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Nisos found several instances of such fake tickets being advertised on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and X. The one below was posted on X.

fake super bowl ticket

Fake Super Bowl ticket ad on social media (Nisos)

MORE: THE MOST TALKED-ABOUT SUPER BOWL ADS OF 2024

Scam tactic No. 2 — Leveraging automation and AI 

Another technique that scammers use is to leverage automation and potentially artificial intelligence in order to identify and target victims based on language used in posts. For example, Nisos received responses from scammers within less than a minute after including typical buzzwords and hashtags used by people wanting to buy tickets, such as #SuperBowl, #SuperBowlTickets or #LookingForTickets. These responses often contained links to other platforms, such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Cash App, where the scammers would try to finalize the deal.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

SUPER BOWL tickets scam

#SuperBowlTickets (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Scam tactic No. 3 — Avoiding detection by using cross-platforms

Scammers also use cross-platform operations to evade detection and bans by social media platforms. They will identify and initiate communications with you on one social media platform before requesting you switch to another. This is likely in an attempt to prevent one social media platform from gaining full insight into the fraudulent activity and banning the accounts.

Nisos observed that scammers often used multiple accounts on different platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, X, WhatsApp, Telegram, Cash App, Venmo, and Zelle, to conduct their scams.

MORE: HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM VENMO, ZELLE, CASH APP SCAM THAT CAN WIPE OUT YOUR SAVINGS IN SECONDS

Scam tactic No. 4 — Offering massive discounts

Finally, scammers may offer massive discounts for soon-occurring events, such as the Super Bowl, to entice you to buy quickly. They may state they just want to sell the tickets “last minute” to justify large, attractive discounts, such as 50% off or more. The discussion below started after Niso analysts put out a public post for Super Bowl tickets and the scammers engaged through DMs.

Super bowl scammer

They may also claim to have a personal or professional reason for not being able to attend the event, such as a family emergency or a work conflict. Nisos found that scammers often used these excuses to pressure victims into making hasty decisions and transferring money without verifying the tickets.

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How counterfeit ticket scammers use compromised and fake accounts to evade detection

One of the challenges of identifying and tracking the scammers behind counterfeit ticket scams is that they often use compromised social media accounts to carry out their operations. These accounts may belong to real people who have had their accounts hacked or stolen by the scammers, or to fake personas created by the scammers using stolen or fabricated personal information. Nisos identified multiple instances when the account’s username, display name, and names on their associated payment accounts were all attributed to separate individuals.

Scammers may also use identity fraud to create or access bank accounts and payment applications that they use to receive money from victims. They may use stolen or forged identification documents, such as driver’s licenses, passports, or social security cards, to open or verify these accounts. Nisos found that scammers often used different names and identities on different platforms, making it difficult to trace the money flow and the real identities of the scammers.

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How can you protect yourself from counterfeit ticket scams?

The best way to protect yourself from counterfeit ticket scams is to be vigilant and cautious when buying tickets online, especially through social media platforms. Here are seven tips that can help you spot and avoid potential scams:

1. Beware of scammers using social engineering techniques. For example, they may encourage you to transfer money immediately as they allegedly have other prospective buyers. They may also use emotional appeals, such as sympathy, guilt, or urgency, to manipulate you into making a decision. Nisos found that scammers often used these tactics to pressure victims into paying before verifying the tickets.

2. Be wary of individuals showing receipts or proof of purchase. This is not a guarantee that an individual is in possession of a ticket, and it can be easily faked. Nisos found several examples of fake receipts that scammers used to convince victims that they had bought the tickets from legitimate sources, such as Ticketmaster, StubHub, or SeatGeek.

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3. Exercise caution when interacting with individuals asking for you to “name your price” or are selling below ticket value. This may be a sign that they are trying to lure you into a scam with a too-good-to-be-true offer. Nisos found that scammers often used this strategy to attract victims who were looking for cheap or affordable tickets.

4. Be cautious when interacting with people claiming to sell tickets on behalf of a friend or family member. This may provide an excuse for scammers using compromised bank accounts with the account holder’s name different from the social media account being used. Nisos found that scammers often used this pretext to explain the discrepancy between the names on the accounts.

5. Review the account’s recent history, as some scammers may claim to be selling tickets to multiple high-profile events, such as sports games, music concerts, and conferences at one time. This may indicate that they are running a large-scale scam operation and are not genuine sellers. Nisos found that scammers often posted multiple ads for different events on the same or different platforms, using the same or similar images and descriptions.

6. Exercise caution and validate ownership even when purchasing items from friends or friends of friends on social media. Nisos identified multiple instances when a family member or friend’s account was compromised and used by a scammer. Friends of the victim vouched for the account user as a legitimate seller, not realizing the account had been hacked.

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7. Our No. 1 tip to avoid becoming a victim of purchasing counterfeit tickets is to avoid buying tickets through social media platforms. This exposes you to a high risk of getting scammed by counterfeit tickets and losing your money and your chance to enjoy the Super Bowl.

Instead, purchase tickets through official and reputable sources, such as the NFL, Ticketmaster, StubHub or SeatGeek. These platforms have security measures and guarantees that protect you from fraud and ensure that the tickets are authentic and valid.

TICKET on stubhub

Super Bowl tickets being sold on a legitimate site (StubHub)

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Kurt’s key takeaways

Counterfeit ticket scams are a serious and prevalent problem that affects many fans who want to attend the Super Bowl. Scammers use various tactics and techniques to create fake tickets, target and deceive victims and evade detection and attribution. You can protect yourself from these scams by being vigilant and cautious when buying tickets online, especially through social media platforms. The best way to avoid getting scammed by counterfeit tickets is to buy tickets through official and reputable sources, such as the NFL, Ticketmaster, StubHub, or SeatGeek. By following these tips, you can ensure that you get to enjoy the Super Bowl safely and securely without falling victim to crooks.

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What do you think social media platforms and authorities can do more to prevent and combat counterfeit ticket scams? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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