England football supporters have been warned of paying way over the odds for World Cup tickets through online sources.
Consumer champions Which? say some tickets are being offered for more than £11,000 – while others sold through secondary sites may not be valid for games.
Football’s governing body Fifa has warned it can void any ticket purchased on an unauthorised ticketing website, meaning fans could shell out thousands for matches in Russia only to be turned away at the turnstile.
But dodgy tickets are not the only rip-offs or scams England supporters are facing with the World Cup just a few months away.
Here are some of the other traps fans should look out for…
It’s well known that everywhere from campsites to hotels look to make big money out of travelling fans.
And with England traditionally one of the better supported teams at World Cups, many will look to exploit that support.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the four-star Gallery Park Hotel in Volgograd – where England kick-off their campaign against Tunisia on June 18 – had upped rates to staggering levels.
Its normal £20-a-night rooms will cost £438-a-night on match day.
A guest house in the town which sleeps up to five fans was advertised at £5,821-a-night.
Similar hikes were found on airbnb. Average rents in Nizhny Novgorod, where England play Panama on June 24, are up from under £20 a night to hundreds.
Book as early as possible and shop around for competitive deals. Check out the official Russia 2018 Fan Guide for booking options or the hotels recommended by Fifa.
Possibly the easiest scam to fall for while travelling anywhere abroad, let alone to a World Cup, is getting befuddled by exchange rates and local currency.
Unscrupulous street hawkers, shopkeepers, merchandise sellers, food stalls, restaurants and bars can make quick, easy money out of travellers by exploiting a lack of knowledge of how much 10 rubles is in sterling or euros.
A street artist sketches a caricature of you and your mates, there’s a lot of chat and banter, the artist says it’s 10,000 rubles, you haggle him down to 7,500. It seems a reasonable deal – but that picture has cost you about £85.
Similarly, some restaurants have their own currency conversion rate, often way lower than the “official” rate.
It means you could be charged a lot more for a meal on a credit card than you realise. Try to pay using rubles.
It pays to be aware of the exchange rate – and to know your currency.
Fake ATM machines:
The Moscow Times reported earlier this year police were warning of a scam involving fake ATM machines.
Scammers are buying old ATM machines for up to 100,000 rubles ($1,700) and refitting them to target the millions of tourists expected in the 11 host World Cup cities.
The machines read card details and PIN codes before telling the user it’s out of order. The card details are then cloned and accounts raided.
Fans are being urged to avoid using standalone ATMs, perhaps situated in corner shops or bars, and stick to those at recognised banks.
Taxis & car hire:
Taxis, airport transfers, car hire are all fertile ground for getting ripped off.
According to the official Russia 2018 Fan Guide, a 30-minute taxi ride in and around Moscow should cost no more than 500 rubles during the day and 600 rubles at night.
If there is no meter in the car, sort out a fare before you start your journey. The cost of the journey depends either on distance in kilometres or on total length of the trip, if bad traffic is expected.
All licensed cabs have to have a yellow or orange lamp on the roof, as well as chequered body. Some host cities have further rules for taxis – for example, all official Moscow taxis are yellow.
Don’t trust unlicensed cabs – it will cost you more and could invalidate travel insurance should there be an accident resulting in injury.
Only hire a car from a recognised “big name”.
Petty crime & crowds:
Where there are thousands of people, there are pickpockets and con artists. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your passport, fan ID, phone, wallet and cash safe.
Look out for your rucksack. If someone bumps into you as you enjoy coffee in a cafe and drops their keys, you might be tempted to bend down to pick them up.
But it might be a distraction technique for an accomplice to lift your bag off the back of your chair.
Keep a tight hold of your possessions while on public transport. Be wary of who is buying the beers in the local bar – drinks can be spiked.