How to Avoid Being Scammed During the Olympics

How to Avoid Being Scammed During the Olympics

by Ilia Sotnikov, Security Strategist at Netwrix

For nearly three weeks in the summer of 2024, the world's eyes will be on Paris as it hosts the summer Olympic games. This grand event will bring together top athletes and sports fans from around the globe.

Unfortunately, it will also draw the attention of scammers intent on exploiting everyone in attendance for their own malevolent purposes. Indeed, fans lucky enough to experience the games in Paris firsthand will have numerous arrangements to make — booking accommodations, purchasing tickets, planning transportation, choosing restaurants, making retail purchases, exchanging currency and more — and each transaction is a potential opportunity for malicious actors to pounce.

This article explains how to mitigate the risk of falling victim to a cybercriminal and losing money.

Bundling Verified Offerings with the Paris Hospitality Program

Consider each transaction as a potential vulnerability. One way for attendees to reduce their risk exposure is to minimize the number of transactions. The Paris 2024 Hospitality Program offers two packages of services: an all-inclusive option comprising lodging, tickets to events, dining, transportation, private events and cultural tours, and a package that includes just tickets to sports venues and access to an exclusive lounge in the center of Paris.

By bundling verified offerings, the Paris 2024 Hospitality Program not only reduces work for visitors but also helps safeguard them from dubious services and would-be scammers.

Purchasing Your Event Tickets

Of course, not all spectators prefer prepackaged experiences. To mitigate their risk, they need to consider the various transactions individually. Let’s start with purchasing event tickets.

The Paris Olympic Games has a digital ticketing platform where tickets are already on sale. While purchasing a ticket to the initial rounds of many sports is relatively routine, tickets are harder to acquire for the opening ceremony and the final rounds of popular competitions such as swimming, gymnastics and basketball.

The  eagerness of fans to secure their attendance at these prestigious events can make them vulnerable to scams. The best way to reduce risk is to use the official resale service, which will open in the spring of 2024. This is the only official site guaranteed to offer authentic, non-duplicated tickets.

Fans who seek tickets through unofficial channels expose themselves to the risk of purchasing counterfeit tickets at high prices. In addition to stealing money through the initial transaction, scammers can glean the buyer’s payment card details and personal information to misuse or sell later.

Visitors to the Olympics should also refrain from showcasing their difficulty in securing tickets on social media; scammers look for individuals showing signs of desperation because they are easier to exploit.

Booking Your Accommodations

Malicious actors also target travelers looking for accommodations, especially when events like the Olympics draw large numbers of visitors to a city. Best practices for reducing risk include:

  • Book your accommodations as early as possible.
  • Stick to well-known, reputable booking sites.
  • Double- and triple-check the URL of the booking site to ensure you haven’t been directed to a website mimicking a legitimate platform. Adversaries use counterfeit listings to harvest payment and personal information for future misuse.
  • Always review the cancellation and refund policies thoroughly before providing your payment details.
  • Be wary of any hosts who aggressively encourage rapid booking, as this could be a tactic to pressure you into a hasty decision.

Securing Your Digital Devices

International data roaming plans can be costly, so many visitors are constantly looking for open Wi-Fi networks. These tips can help you stay safe:

  • Turn off the option to connect automatically to open Wi-Fi networks.
  • Whenever possible, confirm the legitimacy of a Wi-Fi listing with the hosting establishment before connecting.
  • Consider disabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC on the device when they're not in use.
  • Avoid accessing sensitive sites and apps over public Wi-Fi. If you need to do so, use a VPN app that you installed before the trip.
  • If a familiar app is not operational in Paris, exercise vigilance about installing and using a different one.

Avoiding Financial Scams

Pay with a credit card whenever possible. To be prepared for small cash transactions like tips, exchange currency only at official banks; never purchase Euros from someone on the street. When attempting to do business with someone who cannot speak a language you know fluently, use a smartphone interpreter app to ensure all parties understand the terms.

This Olympics will also demand extra caution around phishing emails and SMS messages. The advancements in AI technology are making scams not just more common but more convincing. In particular, be aware that scammers can now easily craft compelling messages in multiple languages.

Final Thoughts

Visitors to the Paris games don't need the prowess of an Olympic athlete to ensure their security during their trip. They should maintain an awareness of their surroundings, use the same common sense they apply daily in their regular community, and stay vigilant about security using the strategies outlined here.

About the Author
Ilia Sotnikov is Security Strategist & Vice President of User Experience at Netwrix. He has over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity as well as IT management experience during his time at Netwrix, Quest Software, and Dell. In his current role, Ilia is responsible for technical enablement, UX design, and product vision across the entire product portfolio.

Ilia’s main areas of expertise are data security and risk management. He works closely with analysts from firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and KuppingerCole to gain a deeper understanding of market trends, technology developments, and changes in the cybersecurity landscape. In addition, Ilia is a regular contributor at Forbes Tech Council where he shares his knowledge and insights regarding cyber threats and security best practices with the broader IT and business community.