TULSA, Okla. — As the college basketball championship season comes to its much-anticipated end in the next few days, the Better Business Bureau has a warning for rookies placing bets online.
"That's the biggest scam we are seeing, is you're giving up your personal info to websites posing as sports betting websites," says Bryce Marshall, with the Tulsa Better Business Bureau.
It's estimated Americans bet more than $150 billion a year on sporting events. According to one popular betting site, the top four sports betting events in the United States are the NCAA basketball tournament, the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA Championship.
Scammers use those events, to prey on victims, especially newcomers to online betting.
Sports betting in Oklahoma is illegal, but bettors can still place wagers through a handful of offshore, third-party booking websites.
"I would have won big money on one of my picks," a bettor named Carter tells us. "But I apparently placed my bet on a stinkin' fake website. Lost my 50 buck bet, and hundreds more I would have won."
Scammers bank on rookie sports bettors using their fake websites, instead of real sports betting sites, such as Draft Kings and Fan Duel, to name a couple. The cybercriminals sometimes come up with their own websites, the Better Business Bureau says, but mostly they spoof those real ones.
"You think it's legit because it does have their logo, has all the info you would see on the original website, there might be a couple of typos, it's grainy with the logo, or maybe they've altered it a little bit," Marshall says.
To protect yourself, security experts say go on offense. Go over all that fine print with a fine-tooth comb. Do your research, google the website and business name. Are scams attached to it? And can you find people who've used the website and are satisfied?
As for Carter, to defend himself against cyber crooks stealing any more of his money, he closed his bank account and opened a new one.
"A real pain you know where," he says.
But now he knows, when it comes to any kind of scam, involving sports or not, he's betting on the experts, who say the best offense, is a great defense.
And remember, never give out any personal or financial information on a website you're not 100% sure is secure.
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