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Fraudsters target UK’s festival season

Reading and Leeds Festivals and Love Saves The Day in Bristol are among the events that have been targeted by streaming scammers

By IQ on 01 Sep 2020

Reading Festival 19

Over 40 fake links for Reading and Leeds Festivals were uncovered

image © Reading Festival/Lindsay Melbourne

A number of UK festivals that have been forced to go online due to coronavirus restrictions have been targeted by streaming scammers.

The scams involve fraudsters setting up fake Facebook pages and unofficial events, charging individuals to view free live streams or old footage, and posting comments or links under the guise of fans.

Kevin Tate, the editor of Festival & Events UK, told The Guardian he uncovered approximately 39 fake links to the Bristol event Love Saves the Day and more than 41 links to Reading and Leeds festival, which featured footage from previous years.

Tate says many of the fake pages were set up close to before the event started, and often registered to countries such as Bangladesh. He says individuals have had varying amounts of money taken from their accounts for free services, ranging from £2.95 to £7.50.

“I do know some festivals have had live streams over the weekends, and I do know people are clicking on the links and getting charged different amounts,” he told The Guardian. “One person will get charged a couple of pence, and the other will get charged pounds.

“This may seem a small amount, but if you think about it, if the scammers get 100 people to click on their link, and people are charged different amounts, then it’s all going to add up.”

“If the scammers get 100 people to click on their link, and people are charged different amounts, then it’s all going to add up”

According to Vicky Carter, a freelance reporter for the BBC, festivals including Glasthomebury, Shindig Festival, and Boomtown Festival have also been targeted by streaming scammers.

The streaming scammers issue first emerged in July when two fake pages, one posing as Universal Music Group (@GroupMusicUniversal) and the other going under the name of Live Concert Music were uncovered.

The sites listed live streams for Rolling Loud Portugal, Michael Kiwanuka and Jill Scott, Cage the Elephant, Montreux Jazz Festival, Nickelback, Robbie Williams, Brad Paisley and Dave Matthews Band, among others.

Almost all streams were listed as happening on the same day, with links landing on pages for sites called Eventflix and Stream Concert. A section below the supposed streams showed comments from “fans” – almost identical for each one – discussing the lack of lag, commending the quality of the stream and recommending the service to others.

Viewers were encouraged to register for free in order to view the content, leading to a page asking for contact details and other information.

Members of the public have been encouraged to protect themselves against streaming scammers by joining Friends Against Scams, a free online initiative that provides training to help people take a stand against scams.


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