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Travel scams for sporting events on the rise

Date posted: 18.08.2023

Sport fans are being warned of the increase in travel scams by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the risk of not taking the appropriate steps that can see them losing out on hundreds of pounds.

The regulator has seen a surge in fraudsters targeting upcoming sporting events that involve an overseas trip. Travel fraud encompasses many different tactics employed by criminals to dupe unsuspecting members of the public.

The most frequent ways sport enthusiasts are prone to travel related fraud are clone comparison websites, fake airline websites, as well as booking with an unlicensed company that can lead to the flights not existing.

Rugby fans in a scrum to get flights and accommodation for the Rugby World Cup Finals in France, set to kick off on September 8 are being urged to avoid being put in the sin bin by getting scammed as demand soars to visit the country.

With the contest set to captivate supporters, the regulator is warning those looking to travel to events over the coming months to be on the lookout for scammers preying on fans and to check for ATOL financial protection before booking.

Fraudsters are also targeting other events over the coming weeks and months including the return of European football for British teams and the Cricket World Cup in India.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority, which runs the ATOL scheme, says sports fans should take the appropriate steps by checking whether their travel company is licensed, and their booking is financially protected by ATOL.

Fans could also protect themselves by taking out travel insurance and avoid replying to unsolicited emails, texts, social media, or calls with offers.

Those planning to attend any overseas sporting events should also pay safe, such as booking with a credit card if they have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances.

In the past, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has stepped in when a non-ATOL licensed travel business unlawfully sold trips to fans trying to get to the Champions League final.

Michael Budge, Head of ATOL at the UK Civil Aviation Authority said:

“Unfortunately, big sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup Finals often kick off particularly focused scams, including fake deals being posted online and criminals posing as reputable travel agents.

“We don’t want to see people being disappointed or miss any oversees sporting trip, so our top tips are to check via our website if the company is ATOL licensed before booking, but also take other appropriate steps such as using a credit card, taking out travel insurance and be mindful that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

The top tips to protect yourself include looking for the ATOL logo before booking, watching out for hidden costs, doing your own research by reading reviews, securing your email and booking travel insurance once the trip is booked.



  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority is the UK’s aviation and aerospace regulator. We work so that the aviation and aerospace industries meet the highest safety standards and consumers have choice, value for money, are protected and treated fairly when they fly.
  • The ATOL scheme was introduced in 1973 and currently protects over 25 million UK holidaymakers each year.
  • When a travel company sells a package that includes a flight, they must hold an ATOL. Once a payment has been made for this booking, even if it is a deposit, the travel company must issue an ATOL Certificate to the consumer.

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