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Premiership footie ticket scam targets Barclays users

As blank profiles on ManU site provoke fanciful conspiracy theories

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Football fans are warned to be wary of a wave of phishing attacks to coincide with the start of a new Barclays Premier League season, which kicks off on Saturday.

Symantec has intercepted spam messages claiming that recipients have "won a pair of tickets for the 2010/11 Barclays Premier League in a draw" that will supposedly allocate tickets every 90 minutes until the end of the season. Users are directed towards a scam site, targeted at Barclays Bank customers and designed to hoodwink them into handing over their banking details.

Screenshots of a scam email, which poses as a message from the non-existent Barclays ticket office, can be found here. The supposed raffle is entirely bogus, as should be readily apparent.

Common sense should tell recipients that they have no chance of winning a competition they have never entered, though the continued use of lottery scam lures suggests a small number of users are daft enough to fall for such ruses. For the rest of us scams like this just mean extra spam.

In other tech-related football news, blank profiles for possible Manchester United transfer signings appeared on the club's site this week. The appearance of profiles for transfer targets Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Luis Fabiano has sparked all sorts of feverish speculation and conspiracy theories on football discussion boards, such as the BBC 606 website, and elsewhere.

Some fancifully suggested the appearance of blank profiles here, here and here are the result of hacking. The changes, which would require access to back-end databases, are far too neat and subtle for that.

Club representatives unconvincingly described the blank profiles as a "technical glitch" when questioned on the matter by the Manchester Evening News.

It's much more likely that the blank profiles are the result of wishful thinking by the bored database admins behind the site. It's either that or test data left in plain view.

Alternatively, it could be an example of coach Alex Ferguson's infamous mind games.

Back in the real world, Man Utd's crippling debts mean it's unlikely that any of the three World Cup stars mentioned in the dummy profiles will wind up at Old Trafford anytime soon, and that promising Mexican forward Javier Hernández will remain the Red's main summer transfer season signing this term. ®

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