When you’re having a blast gaming, the last thing you want to worry about is falling victim to scams. In 2021, the CEO of Arkose Labs, Kevin Gosschalk, told the Fintech Times that “attacks on gaming companies are consistently the most persistent and targeted we see outside of financial services. By November 2021, 27% of all gaming traffic was malicious on Arkose Labs, with most attacks attempting account takeover attacks.”
Unfortunately, gaming scams are a reality for both mobile and PC gamers. The best thing you can do to avoid scams is to be aware of the latest cybersecurity threats and stay proactive. Here are some of the most popular game scams out there today.
Fake shopping sites for accessories and upgrades
Scammers have created tons of fake websites advertising the most desirable in-game items at low prices. This type of scam is usually advertised through phishing emails and malicious banners on websites. Eventually, scammers will take off with all the cash and the victims never end up receiving their purchases.
Skin phishing campaigns
According to a blog post from Malwarebytes Labs, one of the oldest gaming scams around is skin phishing. A scammer will create a fake marketplace or a fake user’s trading inventory page to carry out account compromise. What makes skin phishing so dangerous is that it can be carried out so quickly. A scammer will begin by sending a message to potential victims on Steam or Discord that contains a malicious link.
Here are some examples of the messages used in this skin phishing scam:
- “Yo, I don’t know you unfortunately, but this is for you, I do not need that knife [link]”
- “I haven’t met you unfortunately (or not lol), but take it, I dont don’t need that skin [link]”
- “G’day – I don’t need this bayonet just take it [link]”
Once a user’s account has been taken over, they’ll need to go through support to try and recover it, but by then, the scammer will likely have changed their password and other login information. Even worse, they might try to steal your identity by logging in to a victim’s other online accounts.
Fake tech support for streamers
Users on streaming sites have been impersonating technical support staff in order to convince live streamers there are urgent issues with their computers. After a streamer clicks the link a scammer gives them under the guise of providing technical assistance, the scammer can take full control of their computer. From there, they are free to steal their data, encrypt their computer, and even demand a ransom.
The easiest way to avoid this scam is to never click on links without verifying the identity of the sender.
Identity-stealing apps and games
Scammers have found new and improved ways to steal your identity. They start by creating fake versions of popular apps, mobile games, and PC games with download links found on gaming forums and scam websites. Their goal is to steal your personal and financial information, such as your credit card number, email address, home address, and phone number. Once you enter your information into the website, it’s out there for scammers to use as they wish.
To be on the safe side, learn online shopping safety basics to protect your identity when shopping online.
Clones of popular accounts and giveaways
Scammers can also create copies of popular live streamers’ channels and broadcast their content to get viewers to tune in to fake channels. They may use third-party services to push their clone channels to the platform’s most-watched lists. Though copycat channels can be very convincing fakes, there’s always one major difference: They feature banners and links to fake raffles advertising the chance to win prizes. Once viewers click on the banners or links, they’re taken to a scammer-controlled website designed to steal their personal information.
How to protect yourself while gaming
While learning about dangerous scams can be intimidating, the good news is there are plenty of ways you can help protect yourself and your accounts. Don’t click on links that redirect you to third-party websites to purchase game-related items. Never enter your login credentials on suspicious websites or download apps or games from non-official websites. In fact, you should only make purchases on official websites. When you’re streaming, don’t share any personal information about yourself. If you think you have a technical issue, contact support directly.