By John Ensor •
Published: 20 Oct 2023 • 13:56
Inside Madrid's Prado Museum.
The Prado Museum recently raised an alarm about a counterfeit website. This suspicious platform purportedly offered visitors discounted entry tickets.
National Police have swiftly taken down a false website, which mimicked the esteemed Prado Museum’s official portal, according to a report by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.
Within a mere 24 hours of detection, the fraudulent domain, hosted in the United States, was shut down. While it promised discounted museum passes, its genuine intent was much more sinister – to harvest visitor data for potential scams.
This entire operation was prompted after an urgent complaint from Prado Museum’s management. They had identified a phishing attempt targeting their official site, luring unsuspecting visitors with the offer of significantly discounted tickets.
Determined to lessen the damage, officers set out to track the server hosting the deceptive site and to identify its domain registration. Investigators’ primary concern was to shut down the site and prevent a large-scale scam.
The investigating team discovered that the scam site’s creators might have invested a substantial amount for effective SEO, ensuring their platform appeared prominently in search results. Alarmingly, the site also displayed a security certificate – the padlock symbol and ‘https’ prefix – typically a sign of a safe website.
The site’s creation on October 14, coupled with the acquisition of the certificate, confirmed the belief that its main aim was to gather visitor information. The site lured users with ticket prices of just €7. But to ‘buy’ these tickets, visitors had to provide comprehensive card details. Regrettably, upon ‘payment’, no museum entry was granted, confirming the site’s dishonest nature.
Upon investigation, the team discovered that the website’s host was based in the United States. Following their findings, the domain has been disabled, ensuring no further public access.
Presently, thanks to the swift intervention, the deceptive domain remains inaccessible. The total number of potential victims remains unclear, but the investigation continues, focusing on unveiling the culprits.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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