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Monarchist marks fall for faux royal wedding ticket site

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A benign social engineering experiment has proved how easy it would be to make thousands out of gullible monarchists anxious for a chance to attend next April's royal wedding.

A hoax website selling "Golden Tickets" to the social event of the millennium attracted more than 160 visitors - all willing to pay £250 a head for the privilege of attending the ceremony - in just 12 hours. Even the dubious promise that "one lucky guest will appear in the couple's wedding photographs" was not enough to deter the delirious Wills'n'Kate fans.

Fortunately the exercise was not a genuine con, but an exercise designed to raise scam awareness by website Scam Detectives. "Had this been a real scam, it could have netted up to £33,000 in the first 12 hours," said Scam Detectives editor Charles Conway.

Scam Detectives used a free online website building package top set up a spoof site - http://www.royalwedding.weebly.com - only minutes after the announcement of the royal wedding. The site was promoted using social networks, adverts on classified advertising websites and spam posts on popular forums.

The first visitors arrived within three minutes of the site going live. Making use of Google keywords or other tactics, not employed in the exercise, would likely have brought in even more interest.

"Visitors to this website were very lucky," said Charles. "Had this been a real scam they would not only have lost their £250, but would also have handed over their credit card details to criminals who would have gone on a shopping spree, maxing out the credit limit within hours."

In an odd twist, The Sun reported on Thursday that 100 randomly chosen members of the public would get a "golden ticket" to the wedding. Scam Detectives said it was unaware of these plans at the time it ran its exercise, pointing out that the news would have only added credibility to potential scams.

Scam Detectives is a voluntary project that aims to educate internet users about the dangers of online scams and ripoffs. ®

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