Touts are selling tickets for England’s crucial World Cup knockout match against Colombia for more than five times the face value.
Three Lions’ fans risk paying huge sums in a scramble for tickets as interest among stay-at-home fans in joining the WorldCup party picked up.
Despite Fifa filing a criminal complaint against Viagogo, tickets listed on the website for Tuesday’s last 16 appeared to be selling fast, with category three tickets – the lowest category available to non-Russians – going for nearly £360 when the official Fifa price lists them as £83.
Category one tickets, the highest available, are set at about £177 but were on sale for £513 through the website – meaning fans could pay £336, or three times, more than face value.
Other sites, such as ticketbazaar.co.uk, were offering tickets for Tuesday’s match for up to £870 for category one and £487 for category three.
Social media also proved a fertile ground for touts to sell and trade tickets, with one user offering England fans on Facebook tickets for 700 US dollars (£530) for category three and 900 US dollars (£681).
The seller claimed to have 40 tickets available for the game in a WhatsApp message to the Press Association.
Football’s world governing body has warned it will cancel any tickets that are found to have been bought through unauthorised sellers.
A loophole in the Fan ID system, which also acts as a visa to enter Russia, means fans can use any ticket reference number to register regardless of whether they have a valid ticket or not.
UK police have warned England fans thinking of travelling to plan ahead by sorting their ticket and accommodation before they arrive in Russia.
Among those belatedly arriving for the World Cup were Richard and Sally Humphries, who made the decision to travel to Russia after England beat Panama 6-1 last Sunday.
Richard, a Birmingham City fan, said he had a “fear of missing out”, having initially decided to give the tournament a miss even though they had followed the Three Lions to previous tournaments, including Euro 2016.
The couple, from Worcester, were trying to source tickets to the England versus Colombia match and had negotiated with a man from Karachi, Pakistan, for tickets to Sunday’s Spain versus Russia game.
Fifa said ticket offers had been removed from websites, but declined to say how many tickets had been cancelled having been touted.
A Fifa spokesman said: “Fifa regards the illicit sale and distribution of tickets as a serious issue and in co-operation with local authorities, including consumer protection agencies in numerous countries, strives to identify and curb unauthorised ticket sales.
“As a result, a number of unauthorised online ticket sale offers via websites and on social media in various countries have been removed in recent months.”
Fifa said it welcomed moves by the Russian authorities to increase the fines for ticket touting.
And the spokesman added: “Since in the end ticket touting represents a criminal offence, we rely on the support of the respective authorities to tackle this issue within the scope of the applicable legislation.”