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Van Gogh Museum Fans Duped by Fake Website Selling Bogus Tickets, Stealing Credit Card Data

The fake website which has been taken down was offering free tickets to the Van Gogh Museum
General view of the Van Gogh Museum in Museumplein | Getty Images | Photo by Stefano Guidi
General view of the Van Gogh Museum in Museumplein | Getty Images | Photo by Stefano Guidi

Several art enthusiasts who were looking to go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have fallen victim to a phishing scam. The would-be museum-goers were ripped off by a fake website that was selling fake tickets and stealing credit card information. As per the local news outlet Het Parool, the Van Gogh Museum has received at least 50 reports about the fake site, either from victims or people who came across the suspicious website.

Representative Image of tousists looking at one of a series by Van Gogh | Getty Images | Photo by Steve Christo
Representative Image of tousists looking at one of a series by Van Gogh | Getty Images | Photo by Steve Christo

As per the publication, the reports of the fake website first appeared in early April. The fake website which now has been taken down was the first spoof of the Van Gogh Museum website, a spokesperson told Parool.

Jessie, 36, who was looking forward to seeing the Matthew Wong exhibit in the Van Gogh Museum tried booking tickets from the official website but they were sold out. She then searched for tickets on Google and landed on an English-language page that looked exactly like the Van Gogh Museum website. The only difference was that tickets were available on this site. Jessie, who is a Museum Card holder, bought two tickets without paying anything. Jessie felt like she had hacked the system. However, she did share her credit card details which is apparently all the scammers wanted.

Another victim, Ria ended up on the same site as it appeared on top of the Google search result. Scammers often spend money to get a sponsored spot on the search results. Ria, who is also a Museum Card holder, found the website strange as it was the first time she had to enter credit card details to buy tickets. Since she really wanted to go, she went through with the transaction.

Later that day, Ria looked up the original Van Gogh Museum’s website and found out that the tickets were sold out. However, she didn’t think more about it. The suspicions of the two victims were confirmed not much later when they received messages from their banks. They were informed that the cards had been blocked because fraud was detected on their accounts.

Both victims were customers of the ABN Amro bank. Peter Hermsen of International Card Services (ICS), which manages ABN Amro’s credit card transactions, told Parool that the credit card service continuously works on detecting fraud. Thus as soon as their system comes across a fraudulent platform that is misusing the cardholder’s details, they inform the customer and report the website for it to be taken down.

The museum’s spokesperson told Parool that every report from the victims and others has been passed to the police. The fake website was also reported to Google and it has been taken down since then. Furthermore, the museum also posted a notice on its website warning people about the scam and urging them to only buy tickets from the official website.

Meanwhile, the report also mentioned that the Anne Frank House is also struggling with fraudulent ticket sales. However, it is a different problem where companies are buying a lot of tickets and reselling them to people at high prices.