The coronavirus pandemic has caused economic disruption around the world. However, one industry that seems to not have been affected by the pandemic is the video game industry, all thanks to the social distancing restrictions. In a bid to reduce physical interaction and escape from the pandemic, more and more people are turning to video games. And this is perhaps clearly reflected by the March 2020 video game sales in the US which hit an all-time high in over a decade.

The same can be said about engagement numbers, if the 1.5 billion gaming hours watched and 20 million concurrent players on Twitch in April 2020 are anything to go by. Some of the most popular video game titles include Call of Duty, Fortnite, Animal crossing, and World of Warcraft. It shouldn't come as a surprise that professional lol boosting sites plus many other boosting services have also seen a spike in demand.

But as positive as the increase in video gaming audience engagement may sound, it has also brought to the limelight the risks associated with online gaming. For example, online gaming entails in-game currency, real-world currency, and in-game purchases, which makes online video game platforms an excellent target for scams.


Video Gaming Scam
Source: Pixabay

This begs the question; how do you avoid scams in video gaming? In this article, we’re going to highlight the risks in video gaming that may leave you susceptible to scammers and how you can avoid them.


Top 7 Common Online Video Gaming Scams

Although there are different forms of online video game scams, most of them are recycled versions of scams that have already happened in the past. The only difference this time is that they occur more frequently than in the past. They include;

#1: Credential Stuffing

This is one of the most commonly occurring scams within the online video gaming realm. It simply entails the online scammers using multiple usernames and password combinations stolen in data breaches to access your online gaming accounts. They essentially feed the stolen username and password into automated software and try to generate possible password combinations to access your Twitch, Steam, or Blizzard account.

And although such attacks have a super-low success rate, it's enough to cause serious damage, especially if you’re using the same password for different accounts. Worse still, once hackers gain access to your gaming account, they may steal your personal and credit card information, and use it for other fraudulent activities.

To prevent scammers from stealing your information through credential stuffing scams, you can try using different usernames and passwords for different gaming accounts. After all, if a cybercriminal is intelligent enough to figure out your password for a single account, you can bet they’ll try using it on other accounts.


#2: The Malware Scam

Another common video gaming scam that you may encounter or have already encountered is malware. It operates under a very basic principle whereby the cybercriminals convince you to download a “legitimate” game. Once you initiate the download, the file either infects your device with a malicious code or ends up downloading a game that harbors malware.

Once the malware is installed on your device, the scammers have the leeway to access your private messages, control your devices remotely, or even read your login keystrokes. Armed with such information, cybercriminals can blackmail you or even gain unauthorized access to your passwords, credit card portal, and online bank accounts.

The best way to protect yourself against malware attacks is to download video games from legitimate gaming platforms such as Steam, Origin, and GOG.
 

#3: Unlimited Downloads

Here, the scammers trick you into paying a one-off fee in exchange for supposedly unlimited game downloads.

After sending the money, you only receive a set of links to dubious websites offering pirated games. And in the worst-case scenario, these links are usually packed with harmful malware that could infect your devices.

To make the work of such scams hard, you should avoid sending money to online strangers. Along with that, avoid downloading games from questionable websites.
 

#4: Phishing

Unrealistic as it may sound, video gamers have lost money as a result of being tricked into giving away their account details. Here’s how the phishing scams play out; you receive an email requesting you to confirm a password change.

The link then redirects you to a duplicate website of say World of Warcraft with a phony sign-on page requesting your "previous" sign-on details. Once the scammers have your login details, they immediately log on to your gaming account and download all your virtual points or gold, and sell them online.

The answer to avoiding this scam is to ignore such messages. Instead, directly go to your gaming account and contact the site admin for your details.
 

#5: Paid Tests

In this targeted scam, the online scammers come with a juicy offer of making 100 bucks per hour or free giveaways by testing different beta versions of video games-- as well as keeping the software.

The best way to keep these scammers away is to take offers directly from established game developers. Needless to say, even the most established developers don’t pay users to test beta game versions.

#6: In-game Item Sales

Almost every online game has credits and other in-game virtual items with a nominal monetary value. And in most cases, players trade these in-game virtual items in exchange for better items or real money.

Unfortunately, there are online scams purporting to sell credits and in-game assets they don't even own. No matter how good the deal sounds, never trade your items with anyone as you will most likely end up roasting your fingers. If you must trade your items, look for a legitimate trading site.
 

#7: IP Address Hijacking

Every internet user has a unique IP address. By hijacking your IP address, cybercriminals can easily uncover your full name, physical address, and other personal information, and use it to steal your gaming account or financial information.

To prevent your IP address from falling into the wrong hands, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), restrict communication apps installed on your devices, and install Anti-malware software on your devices.
 

Concluding Remarks

There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected every one of us-- directly or indirectly. But with the recent rollout of vaccines globally, we hope that normalcy will resume sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it is important to remain socially connected while still physically distancing — and online video games allow us to do just that. The key lies in remaining vigilant to avoid falling victim to coronavirus video gaming scams. And with the tips highlighted in our article, you shouldn't have a problem doing that.

 

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Riot Games, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Garena
Developer(s): Riot Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2009-10-27

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