Forty thousand French footy fans were fooled into thinking they were watching a bootleg stream of a World Cup match – but it was really low-resolution video game footage.

Despite enticing headlines promising live games being streamed direct from Qatar, fans hoping for World Cup action were instead treated to highly-pixelated game replays from EA Sports’ FIFA 23.

With, just to add to the realism, commentary in Vietnamese.

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Ironically it was the foreign-language commentary that kept people watching longer, as it convinced viewers that they must be watching a pirate broadcast from Vietnam.

Vietnamese news outlet VNExpress reports that this trick is commonly used by unscrupulous con men to earn “hundreds of dollars” during World Cup matches.

"Theoretically speaking, with football matches that last hours, a channel owner can earn hundreds of US dollars off these kinds of videos," said veteran YouTube content creator Nguyen Huyen.

Khiem Vu told VNE that the scammers frequently use cunning tricks to earn large quantities of money from advertising.

“They exploit large and popular events to treat live streams, even if those streams do not have the content viewers need,” he explained.

Because broadband connections are often unreliable and prone to brownouts in Vietnam, it can often take viewers a long time to realise that they’re watching broken-up game footage rather than just poor-quality live game coverage.

Huy Hoang, who lives in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, was one fan who had been duped.

He says it took him a “few minutes” to realise that the content was fake.

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Huy ruefully admitted: “Until I saw the livestream comments, and the close ups of the faces of the players I didn’t realise these were replays of the FIFA 23 video game”.

Another Vietnamese punter, Ngoc Thanh, also admitted he’d been taken in by video’s title and the red dot that normally signals a live stream.

“You have to read carefully before you realise that they are either simulations or commentaries on the matches”.

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