Thousands of fans from soccer-mad China victims of Fifa World Cup scam
About 30 Chongqing tourists denied entry to the Argentina v Iceland match
More than 3,500 of the more than 10,000 counterfeit 2018 World Cup tickets available globally have been sold to Chinese soccer fans, according to Chinese media.
The online news portal from western China, Thecover.cn, referred to a Russian embassy notice on social media, which said its government was investigating a Russian company for selling more than 3,500 counterfeit tickets to Chinese tourists and travel agents.
Soccer fans from China have snapped up 40,000 tickets for the Fifa World Cup in Russia that kicked off on Thursday, even though its national team failed to qualify.
The embassy notice said the “Anzhi Company” from Russia claimed to have obtained written approval to sell tickets from the World Cup Russia organising committee but the letter turned out to be fake, according to Thecover.cn.
The story has gone viral on overseas Chinese media websites, but received only limited coverage in mainland China. The notice has since been removed from the embassy’s social media channel.
Yang Jun, a travel planner with China Youth Travel in Sichuan province, told Thecover.cn that more than 1,000 of the fake tickets were sold in Chengdu alone.
He said the ticket scam began when the head of a Russian company claiming to be a retired player from the Russian Premier League club FC Anzhi Makhachkala approached Chinese travel agencies.
Another Chengdu-based travel agent told Thecover.cn that a Beijing travel agent was one of the country’s few vendors for 2018 World Cup tickets.
“We ordered more than 40 tickets but have yet to receive any,” the travel agent said.
Apart from Chengdu, victims from the counterfeit ticket scam were also reported in neighbouring Chongqing.
A story in the Chongqing Morning Post said that more than 90 Chinese soccer fans from Chongqing would not be able to attend any matches at the World Cup after their travel agents ordered counterfeit tickets from a Russian website. On Saturday about 30 Chongqing tourists were denied entry to the Argentina v Iceland match in Moscow. Chongqing’s tourism authorities launched an investigation and found that more than 90 fans booked package tours and World Cup tickets via the same channels.
“We ask all travel agents to tell their customers the truth. For those who have left for Russia, travel agencies should compensate with new tickets or make adjustment to their travelling plans,” a Chongqing tourism official said.