Scammers Sell Fake Dinner with Lionel Messi

As Messi arrives in China for a friendly match against Australia, a scam offer is circulating which promises dinner and a personal toast from the star

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Hayley Zhao
1:20 AM HKT, Wed June 14, 2023 1 mins read

Ever dream of having dinner with Lionel Messi? If you have 300,000 RMB (around $42,000) laying around, those dreams could come true. At least, according to one extremely unconvincing advertisement.

Messi will be in Beijing on June 15, where he’s set to lead the Argentine national team in a friendly match against Australia. It’s the first overseas appearance for the star and for the team since their World Cup victory in 2022.

Naturally, everyone is trying to get in on a piece of the action.

lionel messi

Messi has an enormous fan base in China. Image via Depositphotos

As the match draws near, some very ambitious scammers have begun to emerge.

One ad promised that for 300,000 RMB, you’d join Messi at a five-star hotel in Beijing, where you’d get a seat at his ten-person banquet table. It also stated that Messi would give diners a personal toast, and pose with them for selfies.

The barebones text simply stated “June 15, Beijing Four Seasons Hotel table for ten. 300,000 RMB for five-star service and meals. Messi will come to give you a toast. You can take a group photo.”

The final sentence was followed with a jaunty thumbs-up emoji.

Beijing police were quick to dismiss the ads, but the outlandish, low-effort scam had already tickled netizens across the board.

“If you can successfully cheat someone out of 300,000 with this offer, your friends at the police station will give you a toast,” wrote the police on Weibo.


The game will be held at Beijing Worker Stadium. Image via Weibo

Ridiculous scams, however, are just one small part of the chaos surrounding Messi’s arrival.

Steep ticket prices also sparked controversy among fans, ranging from 580 to 4,800 RMB ($80-670). However, fans noticed that the number of low-cost tickets was far lower than usual, accounting for fewer than one-fifth of total tickets.

It’s no surprise that the arrival of the biggest star in soccer would lead to some higher-than-usual prices, but these tickets have caught fans off guard, especially when compared to similar events in the past. Tickets for previous matches featuring top international teams, like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, usually ranged from 499 to 2,399 RMB.

To make matters worse, scalpers are jumping on the opportunity, adding a 1,000 RMB markup to low-priced tickets.

And finally, there seems to be some trouble when it comes to sponsors. A leaked sponsorship price list revealed four available tiers, ranging from 1 million to 10 million RMB ($140,000 to 1.4 million).

All four tiers currently have vacant sponsor seats, stirring public doubt about the game’s organizers.

Cover image via Depositphotos

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