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Friday, March 1, 2024

BBB Alert: Scammers bet fans will fall for sports betting cons


In Game 1 of the World Series on Fri., Oct. 27, the Texas Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 6-5 margin in 11 innings. The Rangers now lead the best-of-seven series by a 1-0 margin.

The Diamondbacks and Rangers will match up for Game 2 at 7PM on Saturday night. For Game 2, Arizona will start right-hander Merrill Kelly (12-8, 3.29 ERA) while Texas leads with lefty Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20 ERA).

What will betters get from the first pitch? Or the final score in Game 2? Will the 2023 World Series have a first-time winner?

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A message from the Better Business Bureau offers some timely advice in the frenzy of the World Series. Note the betting advice also applies to game action via football, hockey and basketball.

Online sports betting alerts

Fans might jump at the chance of scoring a big cash “win” with online sports betting. Be careful that the cash win is not a money-losing scam. Online sports betting, especially micro betting, are targets.

“The popularity of sports betting has exploded, and scammers developed more tricks to score a touchdown with your hard-earned cash, and in some cases get valuable banking information,” noted Naperville resident Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau. “Also increasing the fever are the millions of fans drawn to follow teams, players, and statistics by Fantasy Leagues.”

A trend in the past couple of years has been a hot-targeted type of betting called micro betting, which allows a wager on the outcome of very specific, individual short-term plays during games. This can lead to multiple wagers on a single game since you are not just betting on which team will win.

Increase in betting opportunities raises the stakes for potential scams

Illinois legalized online and in-person sports betting in 2019. Nearly 20% of U.S. adults bet on sports at least once a month, according to Morning Consult, which reported 31% of sports betters responding to their survey are aged 35-44; 28% are aged 21-34.   

Bernas adds, “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.”

Be smart… Know 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.

Be aware… BBB Tips to avoid sports betting scams

•    Look for an established, approved service. Look for sportsbooks 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.

There are good sports handicappers and then scammers who imitate them. If a sports handicapper promises 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 knowledge 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 scam “handicappers” never intended 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.

•    Avoid scam sports handicappers. A scammer’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.

For more information about scam reports 

Know how to identify fake emails. If you’ve encountered a sports betting scam (or any scam for that matter), report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report exposes scammer tactics. 

Visit BBB.org. Look for the BBB seal, The Sign of a Better Business.

Beware of scammers fishing. Beware of scammers phishing, a fraudulent practice in which an attacker disguises as a reputable sports betting business.

RELATED POSTS ABOUT SCAMS / For many years, this publication with its website has run alerts about scams via Julie Smith’s column, “Focus on Safety,” for the Naperville Police Department as well as Steve J. Bernas releases for the Better Business Bureau to help keep the community safe. Click here for dozens of stories that highlight the BBB message, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Don’t get hooked!

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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