National / Media | DARK SIDE OF THE RISING SUN

Police warn Olympic ticket lottery winners to be vigilant

by Jake Adelstein

Contributing Writer

The second ticket lottery for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics closed on Aug. 19 for an estimated 4.16 million residents of Japan who came up empty-handed in the initial draw.

The results are expected to be announced on Sept. 11 for an additional 700,000 or so tickets to first round or qualifying events at the games, with many applicants obviously set to be happy with the outcome. However, the Metropolitan Police Department is urging applicants to be wary of celebrating their success in the lottery too soon.

Fraudulent websites have emerged following the results of the first lottery, with authorities finding more than 100 webpages that have been designed to mimic the official 2020 Olympics homepage.

The Metropolitan Police Department has warned that a large number of phishing emails were sent to Japan-based addresses that attempted to lure recipients to fake websites and click on a link that would have a variety of consequences.

Some websites trick visitors into downloading anti-virus software that is actually malware designed to damage devices, steal data and generally create havoc. Several even go so far as to include ransomware that will lock users out of their devices until victims cough up an amount of money, typically in virtual currency. If they don’t pay the ransom, their data can be erased or shared without prior permission.

Other websites have been designed to convince visitors to pay money into a fraudulent account or steal credit card information.

The Hiroshima Prefectural Police Department suspects that some sites may also be attempting to steal applicants’ login information, perhaps to purchase tickets won legitimately by another person — and then subsequently re-sell them for a profit.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s Cybercrime Division warns that result notifications sent by the organizing committee will not contain a link to an external address for recipients to click. In effect, any emails that include a link alongside instructions asking users to “proceed by clicking below” simply aren’t legitimate.

The division has even posted an example on Twitter of what such an email may look like, which features an illustrated policewoman warning netizens of the danger signs.

Obviously, the organizing committee doesn’t contact winners of the lottery by telephone, postcard or fax, and it certainly won’t send someone around to their houses to drop the tickets off in person.

The organizing committee advises all applicants to log in to the official Tokyo 2020 website and check to see whether or not they are successful. It may take time as there may be a backlog, but it’s the safest bet.

According to news reports, fans must use an authorized vendor to purchase tickets from existing ticket holders if they live outside of Japan. These vendors are allowed to tack a service charge of up to 20 percent onto each ticket.

As the Times of India and other media outlets have reported, the high cost of tickets to several events has raised a few eyebrows worldwide.

A ticket to the opening ceremony on July 24 is the most expensive of the lot, costing as much as ¥300,000 ($2,800) each. A ticket to the closing ceremony costs ¥220,000 ($2,100), which almost seems to be a bargain by comparison.

But with tickets to such events costing as much as they do, you can imagine that there’s plenty of incentive for criminals to try to get in on the act as well.

Dark Side of the Rising Sun is a monthly column that takes a behind-the-scenes look at news in Japan.