Do you like to play online games? Beware of these 3 ways to get scammed


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Gambling app fraud is more common than you might think. Here are the red flags to watch out for. (Photo: Getty)

What’s wrong with spending time smashing candies, beating crossword puzzles, and defeating online opponents? Critics have a lot to say about the consequences of too much play. But cybersecurity experts will tell you there’s more to worry about than just screen addiction.

It turns out that scams take all the fun out of gaming apps for about 1 out of 5 from 147 million people Who’s playing. Mobile app and game fraud costs gamers $1.6 billion in the first half of 2020, and the pandemic has only made things worse. Cybercriminals capitalized on the vulnerability and restrictions of COVID-19 to perpetrate various types of wire fraud on unsuspecting Americans as they turned to gaming apps for entertainment and distraction.

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Here are some of the sneakiest ways hackers can steal your money—and, sometimes, your most sensitive personal information—when you’re just trying to have a good time.

#1 “Romantic scammers” creep into your DMs

Romantic scammers charm you, then they rob you.  (Photo: Getty)

Romantic scammers charm you, then they rob you. (Photo: Getty)

Unscrupulous scammers known as romance scammers like to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Many online games have private chat components, and this is where scammers can contact you under the guise of friendship or romance, gain your trust, claim some sort of financial hardship, and then ultimately convince you to fire them. money or even send funds via gift card. They prefer the latter method “because they can get money quickly and remain anonymous” that way, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There have been a disturbing number of people who have lost all their savingsdrop by drop, to love scams.

“In 2020, reported losses from romance scams [in general] hit a record $304 million, up about 50% from 2019,” the FTC reports. Criminals can play with your heart (and your bank account) on many platforms — including social media and messaging apps – but online gaming is probably where you least expect it. And that’s how they like it.

If you think someone you are talking to on an online gambling platform is trying to scam you, the FTC suggests the following:

  • Cut off the call immediately.

  • Do a reverse image search on the person’s profile picture to see if it’s related to another person’s name.

  • Do a search for this person’s type of job with the word “scammer” and see if anyone has reported a familiar scam from this type of worker.

#2 Thieves and phishers disguised as holders of cheat codes and game cheats

Be careful when paying for games

Be careful when paying for game “cheat” codes – you may get more than you bargained for. (Photo: Getty)

We all love a good hack – no, not this kind of hacking. We’re talking about game hacks: the tips, cheats and “cheat” codes that help us advance and navigate through game levels with ease and without in fact cheating, of course. Avid gamers gather in online messaging forums to share this kind of information, and some malicious actors may see them as ripe opportunities to scam ambitious gamers out of money or financial information.

These hackers can spam forums with links or even contact users directly, offering things like cheat codes, boosts and upgrades in exchange for payment. But once you hand over your dollars or credit card numbers, you never receive the goods. However, you notice fraudulent purchases on your cards and realize you’ve been cheated. And if you are prompted to click on a link to receive your advice, you may also download dangerous malware onto your device.

Lesson learned: never offer payment to an anonymous person you “meet” online. Instead, take advantage of cheat codes and other cheats that are readily available for free to the online public. And be careful what you click on.

3. Credential Stuffers Who Guess and Hijack Your Username and Password

Repeating the same usernames and passwords makes you vulnerable to a credential stuffing attack.  (Photo: Getty)

Repeating the same usernames and passwords makes you vulnerable to a credential stuffing attack. (Photo: Getty)

Do you tend to recycle the same usernames and passwords across all of your online accounts? It’s a common but dangerous habit, and experts warn it’s one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to such online accounts, including your gaming profile, which contains your payment information.

Scammers usually gain access through a data breach, in which a multitude of usernames and passwords are leaked at once. They then use these login combinations on numerous online platforms to attempt to hijack accounts, capitalizing on the fact that many people simply reuse the same credentials.

This type of crime is called “credential stuffing”. And online entertainment is one of the most common routes of attack.

To help keep your online games fun and worry-free, and reduce your risk of credential stuffing attacks, the FTC recommends use long, complex and unique passwords for everything. If that’s not your forte, consider outsourcing the job to a password manager, a cyber tool that automates the process of creating, protecting, and storing passwords for you.

Also, always enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible when logging into an online account. And keep tabs on any activity on the dark web by signing up for alerts (such as through a credit monitoring service) that let you know when your information may have been shared on the black market.

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