Unwelcome early winners have emerged at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia: fake ticket scalpers.
After some Chinese fans were denied entry to early tournament matches, last weekend it emerged that around 3,500 fake World Cup tickets have been sold to Chinese buyers.
This means that around 9% of the 40,000 World Cup tickets bought by Chinese fans were not only fake, but sold at inflated prices by scalpers.
According to Global Times, over 30 soccer fans from Chongqing were barred from entering the stadium for the match between Argentina and Iceland last weekend. They were reportedly among 1,000 victims of fake tickets sold in Chengdu.
According to Yang Jun, a travel planner with China Youth Travel in Sichuan, the Russian agency Anji MSK has been responsible for the sale of more than 10,000 fake tickets, some of which found their way to China.
Yang suggested the scam originated from Anji MSK after the company claimed it had sourced the tickets through a retired professional from the Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala.
The Chinese Embassy in Russia warned on its WeChat account that Anji MSK had faked their documents, and reminded Chinese fans only to purchase World Cup tickets through authorized outlets.
Steep demand and ruthless scalping sees some fans paying heavy premiums for match tickets. According to Beijing News, tickets priced officially at 165 Euros (US$191, or 1,235 yuan) were changing hands at 10,000 yuan (US$1,544).