State and national high school athletic associations, along with local coaches, are warning parents and fans to verify any streaming links to watch sporting events.
Internet scammers are targeting people who want to watch high school sports online by lifting teams’ logos and social media sites to lure people to fraudulent streaming links in hopes of stealing credit card information.
“It’s clever,” said Mike Krueger, commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Krueger noted that the fraudulent sites look legitimate and can easily fool people into thinking they are in the right place to stream a game.
This is not just a Colorado issue.
Mark Koski, vice president of the National Federation of State High School Associations, says this is a growing problem. NFHS has a streaming network that will legitimately broadcast nearly one million games this year. He now actively works with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to intervene and remove these sites.
“Unfortunately, it’s increased again over the past year and a half and there are up to 50 (sites) a week that we’re dealing with,” Koski said. “You get one shut down, and all of a sudden, another one pops up.”
Local high schools are also trying to spread the word and make sure their fans go to the right place to watch a game.
ThunderRidge head football coach Doug Nisenson said he sent out an announcement to remind people to go to an official school account for streaming and has been active on social media to combat the misinformation. He says people should only be on official school sites or should verify they are on the NFHS site.
“To exploit something like that and turn it into something negative is just really, really unfortunate,” Nisenson said. “I think it’s about as low as you can go to try and exploit high school sports.”
Despite all the efforts, Krueger said it will be difficult to stop these fraudulent sites.
“That would be a tall task. We’d love it if there was a magic wand that we could wave to stop this,” Krueger said. “That would be great. As much as I would like to say yes, I just don’t think it’s realistic to say we can stop this.”