Football Index Customers Exposed by UK Government Data Leak Blunder

Posted on: April 27, 2021, 08:15h. 

Last updated on: April 27, 2021, 09:01h.

Hundreds of former Football Index users have had their identities exposed in a clumsy data spill by the body tasked with investigating the demise of the controversial soccer trading platform.

Football Index
The Football Index logo on a Nottingham Forest player’s jersey prior to the company’s collapse at the beginning of March. (Image: The Independent)

An email sent to former Football Index customers by the UK government’s Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) last week confirmed that a government investigation would be taking place.

The platform tumbled into insolvency in early March, leaving users collectively around $100 million ($138 million) out of pocket.

But to add insult to injury, someone at the DCMS forgot to use the Bcc option when sending out the mass message to around 500 former customers.

Regulator Under Review

Later, when it realized its mistake, the department sent out another email drawing attention to the sensitive data leak.

“Dear all, you were just sent an email in error, which should be deleted,’ it read. “Recipients were meant to be BCC’d in, but were accidentally included in the Copy List. Please accept our apologies for our error.

“We will ensure that this issue is investigated and that appropriate action is taken. We take this matter very seriously.”

Besides exposing their names and email addresses, the original email informed recipients that a review into Football Index’s business practices will be conducted by an independent party.

It will look at the “decisions and actions of the Gambling Commission and any other regulators,” in order to unearth any “potential areas for improvement.”

Ponzi Scheme Claim

Up until its collapse on March 5, Football Index was a visible brand in British soccer. It had sponsorship deals with two English Football League teams, QPR and Nottingham Forest, and advertised heavily on television and radio.

The platform mimicked a stock market, allowing users to trade “shares” in pro soccer players, which would fluctuate in value depending on a variety of real-world factors. Players would receive “dividends” based on the performance of their shares.

But because the shares were purely notional, with no underlying value, the Football Index model relied on the constant sale of more shares, which has led many to claim it was little more than a Ponzi scheme.

When the company announced it would slash dividend payments in order to safeguard the “long-term sustainability” of the platform, user panic ensued, and the pyramid came crashing down.

Football Index had its license suspended by the UK Gambling Commission and entered receivership – similar to chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US – a week later.