Hundreds of tickets sold for Hockey World Championships turn out to be fakes

Disappointed fans, crying children, angry parents: some of the scenes that could be witnessed at the turnstiles to hockey arenas in Prague and Ostrava when excited ticket holders realised the passes they had bought to the 2024 IIHF World Championship were fakes. The police have so far uncovered hundreds of cases and one person is being prosecuted.

Hockey fan Standa was looking forward to watching Czechia’s first match in the 2024 IIHF World Championship last Friday. He got a ticket for the game as a joint birthday present from his son, wife and daughter in April.

“The tickets were unfortunately sold out everywhere by then, so my son was searching desperately until eventually he found an offer on the internet. The official tickets cost CZK 4600 but he found someone who was selling their ticket for CZK 5000.”

The O2 arena in Prague,  the main venue of the tournament | Photo: Filip Jandourek,  Czech Radio

Standa’s daughter, who lives in Prague, arranged the handover and went to meet the man who was selling the ticket.

“The man said he worked at the airport and had been given some tickets from work, but since he wasn’t a hockey fan, he was selling them. My daughter said he seemed trustworthy.”

However, rather than handing over printed tickets, the man emailed them to her. Still, nothing seemed amiss.

“The ticket looked completely normal. When I printed it out, it looked just like all the others.”

On the opening day of the tournament, eager to see his country’s team play on home ice against Finland, he travelled from his native south Bohemia to Prague with his friend Tonda. Only once they got to the turnstiles, both men found that they couldn’t get through. Their tickets were fake.

Illustration photo: JirkaF,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

It turned out Standa and Tonda were just two cases among many. The Czech police announced that they had discovered around 200 cases of fake tickets on the first day of the championship alone. In the very first match of the tournament between Sweden and Norway, over 40 people discovered the tickets they had paid good money for were fake.

Some people lost tens of thousands of crowns as they bought tickets at inflated prices, often not just for one match but for several at a time. One man even paid almost half a million crowns for a large number of tickets and sold them on, believing they were genuine.

The police estimate the total damage so far to be around CZK 600,000, but with another week of the tournament still to come, many fake ticket holders likely haven’t even found out that their ticket isn’t legitimate yet as it is for an upcoming game. The police have also said that some people who got to the turnstiles only to be turned away also haven’t reported it.

In some cases, the tickets were true fakes that fraudsters had created with the same QR code. In others, the ticket was real, but had been resold several times to several people. Sometimes the QR codes were for totally unrelated things – dentists’ offices or shopping centres.

The police have now found one man who forged tickets and sold them to at least five people for CZK 600,000. The man confessed to the crime and has been charged with fraud, but as for the money, he told the police he had already spent most of it in betting shops.

Authors: Anna Fodor , Ľubomír Smatana | Sources: , ČTK ,
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