Fan fever runs hot for betting and micro betting
With all the excitement of the new NFL and college football season, Better Business Bureau is alerting sports fans about sports betting scams.
“The popularity of sports betting has exploded, and scammers developed more tricks to score a touchdown with your hard-earned cash,” noted Naperville resident Steve J. Bernas, president, and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
“A new, hot-targeted type of betting, called micro betting, is taking hold,” added Bernas. “Micro betting is wagering on the outcome of very specific, individual short-term plays during the game, such as who will get the ball or how many yards will be gained. You are not just betting on which team will win.”
Sports enthusiasts can do micro betting with football, baseball and other sports. For example, you can bet if the next pitch will be a hit or a ball in baseball. Will the hitter strike out? What’s the speed of the ball?
This increase in betting opportunities raises the stakes for potential scams.
Illinois has legalized online and in-person sports betting. Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. bet on sports at least once a month, according to Morning Consult, which reported 31 percent of sports betters responding to their survey are aged 35-44; 28 percent are aged 21-34.
Bernas continued, “What the scammers do is create online lookalike legal sports betting operations.” BBB Scam Tracker is seeing reports from people who accidentally placed bets with scam sports betting websites or apps.
BBB explains how the scam works
You want to place a bet on an upcoming game, so you search online for a sports betting service. You find a website or app that looks trustworthy. It may even offer an enticing introductory bonus, so you can make an initial bet “risk free.”
You place a bet, and, at first, everything seems normal. But as soon as you try to cash out your winnings, you find you can’t withdraw a cent. Scammers will make up various excuses. For example, they may claim technical issues or insist on additional identity verification. In other cases, they may require you to deposit even more money before you can withdraw your winnings!
Whatever you do, you’ll never be able to get your money off the site. And any personal information you shared is now in the hands of scam artists.
BBB Tips to avoid sports betting scams
• Look for an established, approved service. Look for sports books that your area’s gaming commission has approved. Visit BBB.org to research companies and find businesses you can trust.
• Don’t fall for tempting ads. Ignore gambling-related pop-up ads, email spam, or text messages.
• Read the fine print on incentives. Gambling sites and apps often offer incentives or bonuses to new users and around major games. But like any sales pitch, these can be deceptive. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
• Even legitimate sports betting sites have the right to freeze your winnings. Be sure to check the terms of service.
Is a sports handicapper promising you guaranteed wins? Don’t bet on it. According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, con artists are posing as self-proclaimed handicappers who use insider information to place guaranteed bets on upcoming games.
You come across a social media post or get an email about an experienced handicapper with a record of picking consistent wins. This handicapper is allegedly using insider information to place sure-thing bets on upcoming games. For a fee, you can get in on it too. This person is so confident about their information that they even offer you a money-back guarantee. For example, they may promise you free picks if you make a losing wager.
While it sounds like a safe bet, you’re really dealing with a scammer. These ‘handicappers’ never intend to provide a refund or free picks. And their ‘insider information’ is fake, too. You run the risk of losing not only money but valuable personal information.
More BBB advice
• Avoid sports handicappers. A handicapper’s goal isn’t to win bets for their members, it’s to get people to buy their picks. Once you’ve purchased their picks, the handicapper has already won. It doesn’t matter if the pick wins or loses, the handicapper keeps the payment.
• Don’t believe promises that sound too good to be true. If a handicapper promises you will never lose a bet, or they will refund your money any time you do, think twice. Scammers love to entice their victims with get-rich-quick schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
More information regarding fraud
Know how to identify fake emails. If you’ve encountered a sports betting scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report exposes scammer tactics.
Sign up for BBB’s free consumer newsletter, BBB Edge, at BBB.org/ChicagoBuzz.
Stay alert. Stay safe.
Editor’s Note / For more than a decade, this website has tracked a variety of scam alerts from the Naperville Police Department and the Better Business Bureau. Click here for a little history of constant reminders that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.