As you settle in to watch your bubbled world men’s curling championships, live from Calgary, spare a thought for those who are trying to watch online and are getting snookered by nefarious crooks.
And add some sympathy thoughts for the online gatekeepers who are trying to stop them.
This year’s 2021 men’s championship has seen a deluge of attackers on the Facebook platform. They’ve created fake pages and groups—like #WMCC2021 : World Men's Curling Championship 2021🔴((Live))” urging unsuspecting curling fans to click and watch live curling.
But there won’t be any live curling available. The official livestreams are tightly controlled by the World Curling Federation and many broadcast partners.
The page header below is fake. How do you know? In this case, a major error was made. The 2021 worlds are being held in Calgary, not Ottawa. And the event started on April 2, not April 3.
And if you were to look further, you would note some English-language spelling and grammatical errors.
Despite this, a few innocents are surely being suckered. The images and graphics are stolen from genuine World Curling Federation pages and, for the most part, help the illegal pages to appear genuine.
The scammers also pose as real humans and post the fake links in various Facebook post comments. The names—and fake profile pics—appear East Asian in origin: MD Khalil, Md Rubel Mia, Sadiya Aktar, Kamel Mamud. The fake administrator name on one of the pages is Harun Harun.
They’re targeting Facebook pages operated by major curling brands including The Curling News (sigh), World Curling Federation (of course, it’s their championship), Curling Canada, CurlingZone, and the Grand Slam of Curling. And possibly more, including pages belonging to the competing teams.
This unprecedented assault has drawn these rival platforms together, in a way. The result is a group of weary online administrators united under a common enemy. An enemy of curling!
One of my research guys dared to click on one of the links—NO MATT NOOO DON’T DO IT BUT IF YOU DO TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS—and he reports the website that popped up wants the user to create a (free) account to watch.
Folks, if you mistakenly click once and see this invitation, DO NOT do it again. Do not give them that fateful second click for a supposedly free account to an illegal webstream that will simply bludgeon your computer or device with 400 million popup ads and God knows what else.
Do not do anything Harun Harun and his ilk want you to do.
Just rely on content posts that originate from the curling brands we mentioned above, and ignore all post comments that point you to a livestream.
Asking curling fans to just say no to anything curling—and free—is a difficult thing. Curling fans have lots to say online (even if they ask the same questions and/or make the same statements event after event, year after year) and they’re very active. The sport attracts new rookie fans every season, adding to the community.
At this point, Facebook seems to be the curling scammer platform of choice; we haven’t seen any other platforms targeted to this degree. According to a Council on Foreign Relations blogpost in February 2020, Facebook removes more than one million fake accounts every day—which the author called a failure, i.e. more needs to be done.
Meanwhile, my research guy is now looking for an old laptop computer he’s got in storage. Good heavens … he just might give Harun Harun another click.