With just six and a half weeks until the World Cup kicks-off, host nation Germany is still struggling to combat ticketing scams from cunning fraudsters looking to exploit desperate soccer fans.
The demand for the 3.07 million tickets to the finals, running from June 9 until July 9, has been oversubscribed by a ratio of 20, and fraudsters continue to use new methods to dupe fans.
Hamburg chief prosecutor Burkhard Vonnahme revealed Sunday that several people were now being investigated after falsifying documents from World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola to sell match tickets they did not actually have.
The black market traders, using online auction Web site eBay, claimed to have won the tickets as prizes from Coca-Cola and faxed apparent confirmation of this to the buyer. The fan would then transfer money for the match ticket -- only for the American drinks giant to confirm that the documents had in fact been false.
Auction site to clamp down of fraud but not resales
EBay is unapologetic for black market trading on its site
EBay has vowed to tighten security in the wake of the scam, and Coca-Cola has urged fans to look more carefully to ensure all documents are official. However, the Internet auction portal continues to refuse to prevent people from trading black market tickets on its site.
The German organizing committee (OK) has asked eBay not to sell World Cup tickets, but the auction site pointed out that no one was breaking the law. "There are no laws forbidding this sort of trade," said eBay spokesman Nerses Chopurian.
The OK went to great lengths to ensure World Cup tickets were purchased through the proper channels, but just 48 hours after the first sales period in April last year black market tickets surfaced on eBay.
The OK and FIFA have since set up an official portal which will allow tickets to be returned or exchanged by ticket buyers to nominated individuals.
Official channels the only way to be sure, says FIFA
Exchanges can only be authorized by FIFA and the DFB
As tickets include personal data, anyone other than the designated ticket holder attempting to enter a stadium with a ticket not bearing their name will have the ticket confiscated and will be refused entry. Only by going through official channels can tickets be transferred to another named holder.
The German Soccer Federation won a court case at the end of last week which makes sales and exchanges by ticket holders outside the official channels null and void.
The German organizers have advised all football fans to buy tickets through the official Web site -- www.FIFAworldcup.com -- and avoid all black market channels.
Tickets for the group matches range from 35 to 100 euros ($42-120), while a ticket for the Berlin final costs between 120 and 600 euros ($144-720).