How to Avoid Falling Victim to a Gambling Scam
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To click or not to click? The dilemma is pretty real for many internet users with a soft spot for online betting. Unfortunately, in the virtual world, there’s often a gambling scam waiting just around the corner. The masterminds behind fraudulent betting platforms and casinos use a whole host of shady methods to steal profits from credulous would-be millionaires.
So how can a newbie gambler stay safe and tell a betting scam apart from a tried-and-tested betting deal? It’s not all that difficult, actually; keep reading and you’ll learn the long and short of safe e-gambling within minutes. Let’s dive in and prepare you for what’s out there!
Why Are There So Many Fraudulent Online Gambling Platforms?
Is online gambling a scam? No, it’s not – at least not if you know where to make your bets.
By its nature, the gambling industry entails a high level of danger, but for many e-betting aficionados the risk is an integral part of the thrill. These people relish the thrill of the game and the potentially hazardous results that come with it. No risk, no reward, right?
Still, there are different kinds of danger. The possibility of losing big on a bad bet is part and parcel of gambling. The more serious danger comes when you get caught up in scam betting platforms, fake prize or bonus offers, and other eye-catching online tricks that cybercriminals and fraudsters can use. They do so to get away with your money or personal information, leaving you stripped of both your cash and your privacy.
Of course, you can always post about your experience online and make sure the site that scammed you earns a spot on the blacklist, but there’s little hope that you’ll get the justice you seek – or get your money or privacy back, for that matter. Threats to privacy and the risk of large losses through e-gambling constitute a serious reason for concern, especially if you take into account the fact that the online betting industry is expected to grow rapidly in the years to come, along with a continuously rising number of newbie players and fraudulent gambling platforms designed solely for the purpose of an online gambling scam.
The Biggest Scams in Gambling History
Gambling frauds are not new: they’ve been around ever since the first game of poker. It’s only the con methods that have evolved over time. The list of the biggest frauds in the history of gambling is quite long, and the methods scammers have used for their nefarious purposes are nothing short of impressive. Here are some historical precursors that have paved the path for the online gambling scams we see today.
▪ Back in 1973, one French roulette dealer managed to rig a table at Casino Deauville and win 5 million francs using a radio transmitter built into a pack of cigarettes and a roulette ball with a small receiver inside. By pushing the button on the pack, the player could control the ball and have it land on a specific roulette slot, which allowed him to manipulate the outcome of games and secure high winnings. He was eventually caught, but his ingenious con method and other gambling frauds he participated in earned him worldwide fame (or infamy), as later depicted in the movie Tricheurs (The Cheaters).
▪ Another monumental casino gambling scam leads back to the Buckeye State in 2012. The Ohio Casino Control Commission and the local authorities managed to catch a dozen players whose MO was to enter roulette games with low bets, only to swipe casino chips as their accomplices went about distracting roulette dealers. The stolen chips would then pass hands between the accomplices and the players in surveillance-free areas and were subsequently used by the players to claim cashouts or buy more chips at higher rates. Unfortunately, many of the con artists involved in the hustle (the number is estimated at between 50 and 70) remain at large.
▪ Another of the most ingenious scams in casino history was busted at the poker tables at Les Princes Casino, Cannes, where four players scooped more than 55,000 pounds by using invisible ink to mark the backs of playing cards. The players used special contact lenses that allowed them to tell marked from unmarked cards and claim winning hands. After a couple of high-stakes winning rounds, the casino crew grew suspicious and eventually caught the fraudsters by identifying marked cards and realising that the players were wearing special lenses. Nevertheless, the fraud made global headlines and set a new benchmark in the history of casino scams.
A Guide to the Most Common Types of Online Gambling Frauds
Much to the dismay of would-be millionaires, the gambling tables are turning – and this time, it’s to the advantage of rogue casinos and e-betting platforms, not just ill-meaning players. The list of methods used by scam gambling sites and individual players driven by greed is lengthy, and the tricks are impressively diverse, which makes it super-difficult for a greenhorn to stay out of harm’s reach in the virtual gambling market. Here are some of the most common online gambling scam methods you may come across when trying your luck in the arena of online betting.
1. Multiple account abuse
One of the most frequent methods by which cybercriminals can get their hands on your cash, multiple account fraud allows virtual con artists to create hundreds of accounts by means of fake credentials and then use them for one-time cash transfers or even multiple transactions, which cannot be traced back to their doorstep in case the hustle is busted. Multiple account frauds can take on the following forms:
- Bonus abuse, through which criminals behind nefarious websites can get access to your personal information using eye-catching online prize offers such as sign-up bonuses and coupons. Once they obtain your personal data, fraudulent sites can either use it to ill ends or sell it to third parties. Albeit appealing, one-time prizes and bonus offers are among the most common traps gullible internet users fall into, so don’t hit the red button unless you’re sure the site is legit. Otherwise, you’ll risk the loss of data privacy, credit card abuse, and identity theft.
- Chip dumping, a practice used at online poker tables where multiple accounts take part in the same game in an effort to rig the results in favour of or against one of the players. If you’re new to the world of online card games, you can easily end up getting fleeced through chip dumping.
- Gnoming, where multiple accounts participate in the same game – such as online poker or blackjack – in an effort to help one player win all the prizes and bonuses by purposefully losing.
- Collusion schemes, whereby one fraudster uses multiple accounts in an online game to manipulate the outcome or secure a bonus in collaboration with other players. Unlike gnoming or chip dumping, collusion entails a scam orchestrated by one player, who may not be collaborating with any other account. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, especially in the online gambling world: in some cases, the player behind the scam account can keep losing to an accomplice until they both reach rollover requirements, after which they both drop the game, cash out, and walk away with extra cash.
2. Credit card attacks
Since e-gambling sites and virtual betting platforms function as digital wallets, there is a risk of scams involving payment processing. These can take one of the following forms:
- Identity theft in online gambling, where scammers can use personal information obtained from your credit card by illegal means to top up their account, leaving your digital wallet empty. The worst part is that fraudsters behind identity theft are usually out of the authorities’ reach as they use fake accounts in their criminal ventures. Despite it being well-known among experienced e-gamblers, identity theft is one of the biggest – and least feared – traps new players often fall into, as there are countless ways for scammers to get their hands on your confidential information.
- Chargeback abuse, a practice that usually follows an identity theft and through which the fraudsters can claim a refund from their credit card provider or bank at the expense of the online gambling provider.
- Phone top-up abuse, another common scam in the online gambling industry, through which swindlers can call burner phone holders and sway them to top up their balance while the cash actually goes straight to their gambling accounts to cover their e-gambling debts.
Last but not the least, there is always the risk of an online casino not paying out or falling prey to the masterminds behind fraudulent emails promising rewards for lotteries or contests that you never entered. As handsome as the prize in that spam email may look, it’d be better for you to hit Delete over Claim Now.
And if you have a soft spot for Bitcoins over credit cards, you should take the necessary steps to ensure you don’t end up getting fleeced in a Bitcoin scam. One of the fastest-growing types of frauds in e-gambling industry, a Bitcoin gambling scam can be used by an online casino to seize its players’ digital cash, only to disappear without a trace.
Finding Safe Bets in an Unsafe Era
Even if you remain unfazed by the lengthy list of different types of online scams above, you’ll still need to take certain precautionary measures to ensure you’re playing it safe when you join the virtual gambling market. To help you in your first steps in the online betting world, here’s a quick list of key aspects you need to cover and a brief guide on how to know if an online casino is legitimate and whether you’re at risk of gambling frauds.
1. Check blacklisted casinos and e-betting platforms
If you’re unsure whether the online gambling platform you’re about to join is rogue, you can always do a bit of online research. A gambling platform can earn its place on the blacklist by failing to pay out its players or not having a valid license from a recognised gambling authority. In addition to that, rogue casinos sometimes use pirated software, and some of them even earn the black e-gambling label by selling their players’ personal information to another online gambling site without permission. In some cases, online gambling frauds involve misleading players or failing to honour previously made agreements, which is one more reason why they can end up on the list of rogue betting platforms.
2. Customer support quality says it all about online casinos
Before placing your bets with an online gambling platform, make sure you’ve looked into the quality of its customer support. In most cases, rogue online casinos have weak or no customer support, which is one of the biggest telltale signs that the people behind the website are cybercriminal and fraudsters.
To stay on the safe side of the blackjack card counters, you should reach out to the site’s customer support and ask the staff some simple questions before actually signing up. If the support team is not easily accessible or cannot answer your queries promptly or in full, odds are you’ve encountered a shady player in the online betting arena.
3. The site’s accreditations speak volumes about its reputation
Secure betting platforms usually hold accreditations from gambling authorities such as the Gambling Portal Webmasters Association or eCOGRA certification. Players can find these displayed on the home page or on a dedicated section of the site. If you’re not 100% sure if the accreditations are valid and you want to avoid a betting scam in the making, you can always look up the online casino on the website of gambling associations they claim to be approved by. Should the platform’s credentials turn out to be counterfeit, you should place your bets elsewhere. If you want to do good by other players, you can report the case to the gambling authorities and let them bring the scammers to justice.
4. 128-bit SSL digital encryption is a must-have
Reputable online casinos usually have 128-bit secure socket layer digital encryption to make sure that their players’ electronic transactions over the internet are protected. If the betting site you’ve picked doesn’t offer 128-bit SSL digital encryption – or even stronger 256-bit protection – you might want to reconsider your choice. After all, if you’re to disclose your personal information to any online platform, you need to know your data will not end up in the hands of an ill-disposed third party. Even if the third party doesn’t use your personal information for criminal purposes, your inbox can still end up piled with tons of scam mail, and that’s not something you need to risk.
5. Take a quick look at the platform’s FAQ page
Another important segment of any decent online casino is the FAQ page. It should be easily accessible on the home page, and it should answer all the questions a beginner in the online betting game might have concerning accreditations, privacy protection, data encryption, sign-up procedure, payment methods, and depositing options. If you can’t spot the FAQ page straight away or it doesn’t seem to have all the answers to simple questions, you might end up falling prey to an online gambling scam.
The world of online gambling is a pretty risky place to be for a newbie player, but even if you’re a new kid on the e-betting block, there are still a few ways for you to make safe bets and escape cybercriminals. Doing in-depth research, inspecting relevant site sections, and checking the accreditation of an online gambling platform before depositing your money will help you tilt the balance in your favor.
When checking an online casino’s background, you can always rely on other players’ reviews. Sites that commit gambling frauds usually come with a string of bad comments in tow, so look up your e-betting platform of choice on gambling forums and other web nooks where savvy players share their experiences. The fact that another player got scammed doesn’t make online gambling illegal, but it does mean you don’t have to share their fate. So make sure your bases are covered before you sign up with any betting platform, and good luck!
How do you know if an online casino is legit?
To determine whether an online casino is legit or known for perpetrating casino scams, you can take the following steps:
- Check whether it is blacklisted for previous fraudulent activities
- Check whether it offers a customer support service that you can turn to should anything go wrong
- Check the online casino’s accreditations and certifications
- Check if the website has 128-bit or 256-bit SSL digital encryption
- Check the website’s FAQ page
Are online casino games rigged?
Although many people are sceptical about gambling online, the fact is that there are far fewer rigged online casinos than you might think. Yes, there are many scam poker and gambling sites, but if their credentials have not been revoked, chances are that they are legitimate and safe to play at. It is also advisable to refer to one of the top online casino blacklists and see whether a particular website has been named on that list. If an online gambling site has been blacklisted at any point, you should continue your search for a more reputable one.
Can I get my money back from the casino?
If you fall victim to a gambling scam, you can turn to the UK Gambling Commission for support. The entity was established to help players retrieve funds they lose due to online casinos’ fraudulent activities, thereby protecting all online casino players and sports betting enthusiasts.
What's the best online casino?
Some of the top online casinos include:
- El Royale
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