Online gig scammers targeting UK festivals' virtual events

2 September 2020, 11:01 | Updated: 2 September 2020, 11:11

Fingers on a keyboard stock image
Online scammers have been targeting online virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Getty Creative/ Westend61

According to reports, phishing scams with fake websites have tricked music fans into paying money for access to free content during the coronavirus pandemic.

Internet scammers are believed to have been taking advantage of live streamed events over the summer, which have been taking in the place of cancelled festivals and events during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Guardian, music lovers have been targeted by phishing scams with fake websites granting access to live events and broadcasts weeks ahead of them taking place or redirecting customers to sites that illegally charge them for what should be a free service.

Kevin Tate, the editor of Festival & Events UK, compiled a list of bogus events and pages he has encountered across the festival season.

As reported by the outlet, he uncovered over 41 fake links to Reading and Leeds Festival - which was celebrated over the August Bank Holiday Weekend in lieu of the real event this year.

He said: “I sell tickets on my network with my own community. And I thought it would be good to share the streams from some festivals, such as Download festival on to my page, to get everyone involved during this pandemic.

“But I soon noticed spam coming across these official pages. That’s when I started to investigate it because I was wondering why would there be these fake links?”

It's thought that many of the fake pages, which are often registered to various countries around the globe, are charging anything from a few pence to several pounds - which all adds up when targeting hundreds and thousands of unsuspecting music lovers.

READ MORE: Glastonbury Festival cancels October sales due to lack of refunds

A spokeswoman from the UK music promoter Festival Republic said: "Facebook tells us they have been working to eliminate fake events on their platform, but some have continued to slip through. Both of our virtual events, Download TV and Wireless Connect, have been absolutely free and we’ve made that clear to our fans.

"We do remind fans to always check to make sure the accounts and events they’re interacting with online are verified Festival Republic pages or our official, affiliate brand partners. We encourage them to protect themselves online and be wary of engaging with any spam or fraudulent pages."

A Facebook spokesperson commented" "There is no place for fraudulent or inauthentic behaviour on Facebook and we will remove anything that violates our policies. We continue to invest in people and technology to enforce our policies, and we urge people to report any suspicious posts to us."

READ MORE: Reading and Leeds Festival announce six headliners for 2021

However, there is some good festival news to come from the last week, as Reading and Leeds announced a whopping six headliners and two main stages for 2021.

The twin festivals, which usually take place across August Bank Holiday Weekend, were forced to cancel their events this year due to COVID-19, but organisers have now told fans what to expect on the line-up next year.

Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Disclosure and Queens of The Stone Age have all been confirmed for the festivals, which take place at Reading's Richfield Avenue and Leeds' Bramham Park respectively.

Oasis legend Gallagher said of the news: "Yes Brothers and Sisters, I come bearing good news...Yours Truly is headlining Reading & Leeds 2021. C'MON YOU KNOW. LG".

Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic said: “After an absence of a year we are delighted to announce the 2021 return to Reading’s Richfield Avenue and Leeds’ Bramham Park in 2021 with our most epic plan yet. Two main stages, six headliners, the best line up of acts 2021 will see and 200,000 fans are going to celebrate the best music in the best music festivals in Britain.”

QUIZ: Can you guess the year of these Reading & Leeds line-ups?