Warning: High school sports fans being victimized by website phishing scams

High school sports fans can watch football games at home thanks to streaming platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and X. But viewers are finding out not all streams are created equal, and some fans are losing their hard-earned money to phishing scams.

Social media is where the majority of fraudulent activity occurs, says Jason West, communications director at Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA). Scammers usually post a link, asking fans for their credit card number and personal information. After receiving the information, the scammer takes your money and leaves you with a blank screen.

“We have parents of football players that have family members in California, Nebraska or anywhere but Missouri, but would like to watch the game their nephew or niece is participating in,” said West. 

To deceive onlookers, West says the fake streaming accounts often steal images from school district websites, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and the MSHSAA website. West observed that scammers are becoming more advanced and harder to distinguish.

“All we can do is report the account to whatever platform we see it on. If it is a Facebook post, report it to Facebook as a fraudulent scam or a phishing account. Do the same with Twitter (now known as X), Instagram, or whatever medium you see it on. We have had some success in getting those accounts deleted or flagged. The problem is, as soon as one goes away, there are five more. What we try to do is educate the consumer as much as possible.”

MSHSAA has attempted to crack down on phishing scams by warning observers on social media, but swindlers have learned how to block MSHSAA’s ability to comment on such posts. MSHSAA officials are now asking school districts to warn their fans of the scams. 

West advises Missouri high school football fans to verify the authenticity of every website, or any source that requests personal information, and ensure it is associated with an official school district, a nearby news outlet or MSHSAA. Payment is only mandatory for football games during district play on the MSHSAA website. 

The Better Business Bureau also has issued online warnings about such high school sports scams, and says fans should check the security of a website by seeing if the site’s address begins with https://.

Other high school sports, such as volleyball, basketball, and baseball, are also being targeted by scammers. Viewer, be warned, the experts say.

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