The gaming industry has seen phenomenal growth in recent years, with the global gaming community crossing the 3.09 billion mark in 2023.
This level of popularity has made it an obvious target for scammers and other bad actors vying to rob millions of dollars from gamers, developers, and gaming platforms.
The fact is, the sheer excitement and entertainment value of online games can often prevent you from noticing the early warning signs of a gaming scam. As a result, you could fall for various deceptive schemes that would have been preventable with adequate caution, awareness, and timely action.
What types of gaming fraud can you encounter, and what signs could give them away? Keep reading to learn more.
Prevalent Gaming Scams and Their Giveaway Signs
Here are the common frauds affecting the gaming industry right now and how you can identify them before things escalate.
● Account Takeovers
This is one of the most widespread threats to players, especially those with higher in-game achievements.
Before we discuss the risks involved, let’s first examine how someone could take over your gaming account. Cybercriminals often rely on two primary techniques for this—credential stuffing and phishing.
By applying sophisticated bot-based tools, hackers could use stolen credentials to gain entry to a gamer’s account. This is what’s known as credential stuffing.
Phishing is the practice of tricking people into disclosing personal data. This can happen in several ways. For instance, a scammer could email or message you in the guise of a gaming platform. They can ask you to log in to your account using a link they have given and confirm your security settings or communication preferences.
These types of phishing attacks have a fairly high success rate and can mislead even the savviest of gamers into divulging their account usernames and passwords.
Once your account is compromised, there is no telling what could happen. Scammers could change the password and block you from accessing your profile. They can also sell your account, trade your in-game items, or steal your credit card information to make purchases elsewhere.
What signs could point you to a possible account takeover? Here are the typical red flags:
- Being locked out of your gaming profile.
- Strange purchases or trades under your account.
- An alert from your gaming platform about a login attempt from an unfamiliar IP address.
● In-Game Item and Currency Fraud
Trading or purchasing in-game currency and items is a prevalent practice among gamers. Bad actors could take advantage of this to target players for financial fraud.
For instance, they could approach you using off-platform channels, such as gaming forums and social media, and offer skins, weapons, and similar goods at discounted prices. Once you make the payment, they could send you fake items or none at all.
Unsolicited communications are the number one red flag for this type of scam. Payment options that include wire transfers, cryptocurrency, and gift cards are another warning sign to watch out for.
● Fake Promotions
From time to time, you may receive emails, SMSs, or DMs with fraudulent promotions. They can, for example, offer heavily discounted deals or exclusive access to beta versions of new games.
These types of scams can pose various threats. They can install malware under the pretext of downloading a game or take you to a phishing site to steal your personal data. They may also defraud you with a financial scam.
Tempting deals with once-in-a-lifetime offers and rock-bottom prices are common giveaways of such fraud.
● Multiple Account Scams
Fraudsters can create several accounts using fabricated data or stolen identities to gain an unfair advantage in multiplayer games. This practice can dramatically reduce your chances of winning or progressing through the game.
While these scams may not cost you anything in financial terms, they can rob you of an authentic gaming experience.
An unusual winning streak enjoyed by one or more players who dominate a game is a telltale sign of multiple account fraud.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself From Gaming Scams?
If you are an avid gamer, taking adequate precautions should be a top priority for creating a safe gaming environment.
Here are the essential steps to follow.
● Strengthen Account Security
Safeguard your gaming accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Passwords must be random and unique to each account. Never save them on your browser or device, and log out of your accounts when they are not in use.
● Avoid Shady Vendors
Before purchasing from an unknown vendor, you must verify their authenticity to ensure your safety. For instance, if you meet a seller on social media, review their profile for any red flags. Ask for a contact number to reverse search it by area code on Nuwber and verify the seller’s information.
● Opt for Reliable Apps and Platforms
Avoid unverified or unfamiliar apps and gaming platforms that can expose you to scam threats. Always check reviews before you set up an account or install a new gaming software. In addition, use a reliable app store for mobile app downloads.
● Ignore Unverified Messages
Remain vigilant when dealing with strangers through social media, emails, SMSs, or forums. Any unexpected communication, even from a loved one, should be treated with caution if it involves downloading an attachment, clicking a link, or sharing personal information.
● Protect Your Identity
Adopt random usernames that allow you to maintain anonymity on gaming platforms. Be extra careful not to divulge identifiable details when interacting with other gamers.
Use a VPN to conceal your IP address and turn off data tracking to prevent gaming platforms from collecting your activity data.
● Guard Your Devices
Install malware protection to identify and mitigate virus attacks. To prevent unauthorized physical access to your devices, apply PIN codes and biometric identifiers.
● Monitor Your Credit Card Statements
Keeping track of credit card transactions is essential for identifying fraudulent activity. If you notice any unusual payments, immediately alert your card issuer and the relevant gaming platform to investigate and minimize damage.
Gaming scams don’t just put players at risk. They affect other stakeholders, too—from app developers to gaming platforms—robbing the industry of millions of dollars and shaking its credibility. Therefore, everyone has a critical role to play in curbing predatory schemes. Taking a proactive approach to building awareness, strengthening security, and tackling unlawful activity is essential for this.