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Tokyo Olympics organizers ramp up fraud warnings ahead of ticket lottery results

Japan BMX rider Rim Nakamura, right, and comedian Naomi Watanabe are seen at an event to mark the opening of Olympic and Paralympic ticket lottery applications for residents of Japan in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on May 9, 2019. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

TOKYO -- Organizers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games are warning people to be on their guard against fraud ahead of their announcement of ticket lottery results on June 20, while providing advice on how to spot fake result notifications.

Ticket lottery results will be accessible via the official Tokyo 2020 website, and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will also send all applicants an email notification of their results. But there are fears that fraudsters will take advantage of the timing to distribute fake messages designed to steal people's money and personal information.

"It's expected that fraudsters will use methods like directing customers to fake websites that purport to be official Olympic committee pages," an individual connected to the committee warned.

The organizing committee received around 7.5 million applications, which require ID registration, to be able to buy tickets. The figures have exceeded those for the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. Due to the large increase in the number of people set to receive notification from organizers, officials are increasing their warnings to the public about fraud.

One tournament organizer said, "In the same way that scams are carried out over tickets for events like popular concerts, fraud groups are likely to employ a variety of underhanded methods to try to deceive people. For example, they may send false emails notifying applicants of their success and seeking payment for the tickets, or propose alternative ticket purchase methods to applicants they claim have lost out on the lottery."

According to the organizing committee, while fraudulent websites disguising themselves as the official Olympic homepage are not likely to appear in top search results, over 100 cases have already been identified. Instances of people falling victim to the scammers have yet to be confirmed, but there are fears more skilfully deceptive fake sites may appear in the near future.

In order to differentiate clearly between a fraudulent email and an official one, results notifications sent by the organizing committee on June 20 will not contain a URL website address link to click. A representative for the committee said "Even if they've received a message about their lottery results, we want people to realize that if it has a URL included then it is a fraudulent email. We will also not contact applicants by telephone or letter, so please be vigilant."

(Japanese original by Shohei Oshima, City News Department, and Tadashi Murakami, Sports News Department)

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